Saturday, August 31, 2013


[Mrian MacPartland and I think Mary Lou Williams and Thelonious Monk in a cut out from the famous "A Great Day in Harlem" group shot of many of the living legends of jazz in 1958]

I know some important cultural figures have passed lately, like the great Irish poet Seamus Heaney and the great stage and screen actor Julie Harris (She was sometimes too precious for me, but I saw her do THE BELLE OF AMHERST on the Broadway stage and despite that play's misunderstanding of Emily Dickinson and its interpretation of her personality and character, Harris was still mesmerizing to watch, holding the stage alone and amazing)...

...but the passing of the two of them is getting a lot of attention in the media and among my Facebook friends and such, but I haven't seen anything marking the passing last week of Marian MacPartland who was one of my alltime favorite cultural figures.

The English born piano player was a giant of jazz, and as someone who played jazz piano as a young man and has some experience with the technical challenges I can honestly say she was one of the most talented pianists ever. But even more meaningful to me than her playing was her public radio show where she did duets with brilliant musicians and shared insights into their talent and matched them with her own.

Her show with Ray Charles was one of the most revealing ones I ever heard, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt why Charles was called "The Genius" as he talked about and displayed his vast knowledge of piano technique way more varied than his usual stuff. I looked forward to hearing her show every week for many many years and they were all done when she was already a very old woman!

She lived a long full life and gave the world so much more than most of us will ever be able to, I hope we never forget her legacy and her music and that those shows live on not just in musical history but for anyone who appreciates musical genius to learn from.

[And here's a nice little summary of her career:]

[...and of her talent:}


Jamie Rose said...

Wow. I've never even heard of her. Listening to the clip you posted of her doing Another You. Soooo good. And love the pic of her with my fav Elvis Costello. Thanks for posting this Lals. xoxo

Lally said...

Quite welcome Jamie and glad to turn you on to a really singular talent.

Anonymous said...

Heard her show many times on WBGO while driving home from work. I enjoyed her anecdotes, her predictable lines with guests and her flawless accompaniment or solo playing of about 50,000 different tunes.She was my mother's age, but when I heard her speak of playing piano in so many places with so many top people, it seemed that she had lived 300 years without growing old. Bill Lannigan

Lally said...

Well put Bill.