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Marian McPartland Trio @ Kennedy Center Jazz

Marian McPartland (seated) with Dee Dee Bridgewater.

On this JazzSet, we're at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, with the first lady of NPR's longest-running music series, the Peabody-winning Piano Jazz, heard on 250 stations every week. But this time, it's all Marian, no guests.

Marian McPartland was a proper English girl, who horrified her mother with her love of jazz. Upon hearing that young Marian was about to forego classical piano to pursue the newer style, her mother said, "I know what you're going to do: marry a musician and live in an attic." And as Marian says today, "I did, of course." She married GI and trumpet player Jimmy McPartland in England in the 1940s, and then they came to America.

If you visit her at home (suburban ranch house, much nicer than an attic), you'll see that Marian's grand piano is the center of her living room. The truth is, wherever Marian sits down at a piano, the space around her becomes her living room, with music and stories. That's her approach to this concert.

Her life in jazz is a beautiful arch. She has one foot in a fabled era of New York nightlife, during which she was a regular player at the Hickory House. Many evenings Duke Ellington would come by for his steak dinner. Just imagine playing piano for Duke Ellington, with Billy Strayhorn sitting at the bar. Marian did it.

To this day she opens her sets with music by Ellington and Strayhorn, interpreted for today.

"Take the A Train" by Ellington and Strayhorn
"Clothed Woman" by Ellington and Strayhorn
"Sophisticated Lady" by Ellington and Strayhorn
"Twilight Time" by Marian McPartland
Excerpt of "Stranger in the Dream" by McPartland
"Ramblin" by Ornette Coleman
"All the Things You Are" by Jerome Kern
"Singing the Blues" by Bix Beiderbecke, as learned from Jimmy McPartland
"A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square" by Eric Maschwitz, Sherwin Manning (by request from a member of the audience)
"When the Saints Go Marching In" dedicated to Jimmy McPartland, arranged by Marian
Closing music: "Close Your Eyes" by Bernice Petkere

Marian McPartland - piano
Gary Mazaroppi - bass
Glen Davis - drums
When asked how long this trio has been together, neither Gary nor Glen could pinpoint their first date. They dismissed the question by saying "We live in the present!" That's where Marian's other foot is. She plays in the present.


  • NPR's Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz


    Our recording is by Phil Edwards with Brian Edwards and Earl Pitman.

    Thanks to NPR director of music Benjamin K. Roe and Piano Jazz producer Shari Hutchinson.

    Mark Greenhouse and Brian Jarboe are our recording engineers. Our technical firector is Duke Markos. Dee Dee Bridgewater's studio engineer is Ginger Bruner at KUNV, Las Vegas. Katie Simon selected the music.

    Our producer is Becca Pulliam, executive producer Thurston Briscoe III from Jazz 88, WBGO in Newark.

    Copyright 2007 NPR