McPartland, Marian (originally, Turner, Margaret)

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McPartland, Marian (originally, Turner, Margaret)

McPartland, Marian (originally, Turner, Margaret), pianist, composer; b. Windsor, England, March 20, 1918. She played classical music as a child, just like her mother, who loved Chopin. She began playing violin and won a scholarship to the Guildhall School of Music in London, where she studied piano; in her late teens, against the vehement opposition of her parents, she switched to jazz and began gigging in London under the name “Marian Page,” including work with a four-piano vaudeville act. She made joint appearances with novelty pianist Billy Mayerl, and toured entertaining Allied troops during World War II. In Belgium in 1945, she met and married Jimmy McPartland, who was entertaining troups for the USO. They played for Eisenhower in 1946, and moved to Chicago that year, staying until 1950, when they moved to N.Y She lead her own trio at the Embers Club (1950) and at the Hickory House (1952–60). Starting in the late 1940s, she wrote occasionally for Down Beat and other publications. Her recordings from the early 1950s, especially ballads, employ “impressionistic” voicings in the solos and arrangements that in some ways predate Bill Evans. She wrote a number of songs in the popular vein, including the successful “There’ll Be Other Times.” She studied the music of Monk with Hall Overton.

From 1955, she has spent much time introducing jazz to schoolchildren. She started her own label, Halcyon, in 1969 and made a triumphant return to active club and concert work in the 1970s. She and Jimmy divorced in 1970 but remained great friends and continued to work together occasionally; in 1978, they performed at the Newport Jazz Festival. They symbolically remarried shortly before his death in 1991. In 1979, McPartland began her Peabody-award-winning NPR program, Piano Jazz, in which she talks and plays with every style of jazz pianist; some of the roughly 400 shows have been issued on CD. She has also made extensive radio and TV appearances and served on jazz boards. She performs regularly with “pops” orchestras; in the early 1980s, she performed Grieg’s Piano Concerto throughout the U.S. She gave a private performance for the Supreme Court on April 17, 1997; a major all-star concert was held at Town Hall for her 80th birthday, and broadcast on radio; the reception afterward was broadcast on BET-TV’s Jazz Scene. She has won numerous awards, including Down Beat’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997.


Great Britain’s Marian McPartland (1947); Looking for a Boy (1950); Marian McPartland in Concert (1951); Jazz at Storyville (1951); Moods (1952); Lullaby ofBirdland (1952); Jazz at the Hickory House (1952); Marian McPartland at the Hickory (1954); Marian McPartland Trio (1956); With You in Mind (1957); Marian McPartland at the London (1958); Marian McPartland Plays the Music (1960); Marian McPartland (1963); West Side Story (1964); Interplay (1969); Ambiance (1970); Delicate Balance (1971); Sentimental Journey (1972); McPartlands Live at the Montice (1972); Elegant Piano (1972); Plays the Music of Alec Wilder (1973); Maestro and Friend (1973); Solo Concert at Haverford (1974); Concert in Argentina (1974); Fine Performance (1976); Now’s the Time (1977); Piano Jazz: McPartland/Evans (1978); Let It Happen (1978); From This Moment On (1978); Portrait of Marian McPartland (1979); Piano Jazz: McPartland/Blake (1979); At the Festival (1979); Live at the Carlyle (1979); Piano Jazz: McPartland/Wellstood (1981); Piano Jazz: McPartland/Stacy (1981); Piano Jazz: McPartand/Cowell (1981); Personal Choice (1982); Willow Creek and Other Ballads (1985); Marian Me Partland’s Piano Jazz (1985); Piano Jazz: McPartland/Short (1986); Music of Billy Strayhorn (1987); Piano Jazz: McPartland/Carter (1989); Piano Jazz: McPartland/Hyman (1990); Piano Jazz: McPartland/Carroll (1990); Marian McPartland Plays the Benny Carter Songbook (1990); Piano Jazz: McPartland/Richards (1991); Piano Jazz: McPartland/Terry (1993); McPartland/Burrell (1993); In My Life (1993); Plays the Music of Mary Lou Williams (1994); Piano Jazz: McPartland/Ellington (1994); At The Festival (1994); Piano Jazz: Amina Claudine Myer (1995). g. shearing:Alone Together (1981).


All in Good Time (N.Y, 1987).

—Lewis Porter/Music Master Jazz and Blues Catalogue/Nicolas Slonimsky