Pianist and composer Eric Reed began playing piano as a small child. He was only 18 when he played his first string of gigs with Wynton Marsalis, work that catapulted him to the forefront of jazz musicians. He has played with Joe Henderson, Betty Carter, and Joshua Redman, among others, and has established himself as a notable leader, producer, and educator. On this 1995 Piano Jazz, the then 24-year-old Reed's distinctive style is evident on a solo of "Cedar's Blues."
Pianist Jacky Terrasson was born in Berlin and raised in Paris. After moving to the US, he studied at Berklee College and went on to win the 1993 Thelonious Monk International Piano Competition. He has toured internationally and collaborated with greats such as Ray Brown, Cassandra Wilson, and Ry Cooder. Terrasson demonstrates his extraordinary talents in this 1995 Piano Jazz session, playing "Polka Dots and Moonbeams" and "Oleo."
Bassist Steve Swallow and pianist Carla Bley are both acclaimed jazz composers and performers with international reputations. On this 1996 Piano Jazz, they team up to talk with McPartland about their combined repertoire of innovative music. Bley and Swallow kick off the program with a duet of Bley's composition "Major," McPartland joins Bley for a unique duet of "Chopsticks," and they close the show as a trio with Bley's "Ad Infinitum."
A true prodigy, pianist Aaron Parks was still in his teens when he was McPartland's guest in this 2001 session. That year he placed first in the fifth American Jazz Piano Competition, landing the Cole Porter Fellowship. He went on to place third in the 2006 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition and has built a prolific career as a performer and recording artist. On this Piano Jazz, Parks performs Cole Porter's "Miss Otis Regrets."
Valerie Capers is a fabulous pianist, composer, and educator. The first blind graduate from the Juilliard School of Music, she is blessed with a diverse piano style that combines elements of Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, and Bill Evans, with some Chopin thrown in. On this 1998 Piano Jazz, Capers shows off her classical chops when she solos on "It Could Happen to You." Then she and McPartland swing out on "Scrapple from the Apple."
Saxophonist and composer Benny Golson began studying piano as a child but was soon seduced by the tenor saxophone sounds he heard on jazz records. He gained recognition as a composer when he joined Dizzy Gillespie's big band, and he went on to form The Jazztet, a hard-bop group, with trumpeter Art Farmer. Golson has devoted much of his time to jazz education and he continues to record and tour regularly. On this Piano Jazz from 2006, McPartland and bassist Rufus Reid join Golson to perform "Along Came Betty" and "I Remember Clifford."
Guitarist Monty Alexander grew up in Kingston, Jamaica. His earliest musical experiences came from the folk and popular songs of his country as well as the Calypso rhythms that originated from Trinidad. Alexander moved to Miami in 1961 and worked in clubs before moving to New York City in 1962, where he played at Minton's Playhouse. He was McPartland's guest in 1991. Known for his rhythmic approach and melodic and harmonic inventiveness, Alexander solos on his original "Look Up" and teams up with McPartland for an unusual duet.
Sarah Vaughan (1924 – 1990) was one of the greatest vocalists of the twentieth century. With rich vibrato and an incredible range, "Sassy" recorded critically-acclaimed interpretations of standards including "Misty" and "I've Got a Crush On You." On this 1986 Piano Jazz, Vaughan talks about her start as a jazz singer and explains how she uses the piano to learn her songs. She sings "Tenderly" and "Poor Butterfly" while McPartland plays, then the two join forces for "My Funny Valentine."
British pianist Alan Clare (1921 – 1993) was McPartland's guest at the BBC's Delaware Road studios in London. Clare began his professional career at age eleven and went on to work with George Shearing, Stephen Grappelli, and Spike Milligan. He also fulfilled regular engagements at the London residence of the American Ambassador for parties honoring such guests as Queen Elizabeth and former President Reagan. On this Piano Jazz from 1990, Clare plays his composition "John O Groats" and joins McPartland for a go-around on "In a Mellow Tone."
Singer and pianist Dena DeRose has performed at some of the most renowned venues in the world, from The Blue Note in New York to Swing Hall in Japan. She has shared the stage with artists including Clark Terry, Ray Brown, and Ingrid Jensen. She teaches at the Jazz Institute of the University for Music and Performing Arts in Austria, and continues to perform worldwide. She was McPartland's guest in this 2001 session. DeRose opens the show with "If I Should Lose You" and McPartland joins for "I'm Old Fashioned."