Guitarist Pat Metheny is one of the brightest stars in the jazz firmament. The only person to win a Grammy in ten different categories, the ever-evolving artist is constantly experimenting with new technology and honing his improvisational skills and unique style. On this 2006 Piano Jazz, The Pat Metheny Trio, which includes bassist Christian McBride and drummer Antonio Sanchez, performs an exclusive version of "Go Get It" and "Bright Size Life.
Long acknowledged as one of the world's leading sopranos, Eileen Farrell (1920 – 2002) was comfortable in the spotlight of opera, jazz, and the blues. She began her career as a classical and operatic singer, and in the 1980s began performing pop. Of the change, Farrell said, "In opera there is a certain person you have to be. Doing pop, I can be whoever I want to be."
Grammy Award-winning pianist, composer, and bandleader Michel Camilo is one of the most fascinating jazz artists working today. A prodigy from the Dominican Republic, he began his professional career at sixteen, the youngest member of the National Symphony Orchestra. In his twenties he moved to New York City, where he took the jazz scene by storm with his whirlwind approach to music, technical brilliance, and post-bop Latin rhythms. In this 1989 Piano Jazz session, Camilo plays his own composition "Nostalgia."
Pianist Gene Harris (1933 – 2000) was an integral part of the well-known group The Three Sounds trio, with bassist Andy Simpkins and drummer Bill Dowdy. After a brief hiatus in the 1970s, he teamed up with bassist Ray Brown to form a new group and also made his way as a solo act. An accomplished leader and sideman, Harris played with such greats as Aretha Franklin, Lou Rawls, and B.B. King. On this 1988 Piano Jazz, Harris opens with a slow and easy "Black and Blue," then McPartland joins him on "Bag's Groove."
This week, Piano Jazz remembers Marlene VerPlanck (1933 – January 14, 2018), who died from cancer this year at age 84. One of the finest interpreters of American Popular Song, VerPlanck's artistic sensitivity made her a favorite of songwriters and listeners alike. As a studio singer, she was sought out by everyone from Frank Sinatra to KISS, and she also had a dynamic career as a solo performer. She was McPartland's guest in 1999. In this session, VerPlanck joins McPartland to sing "Skylark" and "Our Love is Here to Stay."
Vibraphonist Stefon Harris is one of the most innovative and impressive artists in jazz, blazing new trails on vibraphone and marimba. While much of his music is on the cutting edge, he has a strong sense of tradition and his technical facility knows no bounds. On this 2002 Piano Jazz, Harris shows off his fresh, clear sound on a number of duets with McPartland, including "Whisper Not," "Blue Monk," and "Bemsha Swing." McPartland solos on her own "Twilight World."
This week's Piano Jazz presents an episode from the early years of the program with guest Jess Stacy (1904 – 1995), who came out of retirement to appear on the show in 1982. One of the leading pianists of the swing era, Stacy was best known for his work with the Benny Goodman Orchestra and had a prolific career before stepping back from the music world in the 1950s. In this classic session from the archives, Stacy needs no introduction as he starts the show with a solo performance of "Dancing Fool." McPartland joins to end the hour with "St. Louis Blues."
Pianist and composer Rachel Z grew up in Manhattan in a musical family. Her mother taught her classical voice and opera from a young age, but she found her own sound in the jazz and rock worlds. On the keys, she is lightning-quick and her percussive yet lyrical approach enhances her technique. In 2010, she formed a group called The Trio of Oz with her husband, Omar Hakim. On this 1999 Piano Jazz, Rachel Z performs her original "Gently Sleeps the Pear Tree." She and McPartland switch gears with "All the Things You Are."
Ever-popular song stylist Tony Bennett was McPartland's guest for the first time in 1990. Bennett vocalizes American popular songs like nobody else can. When he was starting out, a voice teacher, Miriam Spier, famously told him: "Don't imitate singers, imitate musicians." So, Bennett decided to emulate Art Tatum. He also credits his relaxed delivery to the inspiration of Mildred Bailey. On this edition of Piano Jazz, Bennett sings "Stay as Sweet as You Are" and "Imagination." There's no need to guess who's playing the accompaniment.
Upon moving to New York from Vancouver, Canada, pianist and composer Renee Rosnes established a reputation as one of the premier jazz musicians on the scene. Over her 30-year career, Rosnes has collaborated with a diverse range of artists, from established masters such as Jack DeJohnette to younger giants such as Christian McBride and Melissa Aldana. On this 1990 episode of Piano Jazz, she plays Monk's "Four in One" then improvises with McPartland on her own tune "Fleur De Lis."