Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Marian McPartland Leaves Quite a Mark for Us All

The iconic "A Great Day in Harlem." Marian McPartland (who's white) is front row standing right of center.
Most of you will know Marian McPartland's speaking voice and piano style much more than you will know her visage. But she was a lovely woman inside-out and one of the most popular and knowledgeable jazz musicians in our nation's history.

Marian McPartland in the 1950s.
Her jazz show Sunday nights on Public Radio brought her talents--and those of many other jazz greats--to a wide audience as she discussed how the music was made, its impact, its players' influences. Good interviewer and a better musician. Her guests were not always predictable. She interviewed a range from Frank Zappa to Burt Bacharach and everybody between them.

She was also part of the famous photo above, "A Great Day in Harlem," taken in 1958 and including most of the great musicians of the genre. The story of this photo became an Academy Award-winning documentary by Jean Bach, an aging radio producer at the time, making her first film. Art Kane took the photo at 10 a.m., August 12, for Esquire magazine at a time when it was the best mag in the country (edited by the legendary Arnold Gingrich).

McPartland, who was 95, will be missed by a lot of people, but she leaves a wide, deep mark of the kind most of us only dream.

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