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Jazz Legend Marian McPartland Performs at Rose Hill


Jazz at Rose Hill

Marian McPartland brings piano jazz to Fordham.

Jazz pianist Marian McPartland turned the University Commons into an intimate jazz club at dusk on Feb. 2. This May, she plans to bring her trio to Fordham's Manhattan neighbor, Jazz at Lincoln Center, for a six-night run at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola.
Photo by Jessica Chornesky

Jazz pianist and composer Marian McPartland entertained a standing-room-only crowd in Duane Library’s University Commons on Feb. 2, with an hour-long set featuring such standards as Duke Ellington’s “Sophisticated Lady” and Jerome Kern’s “All the Things You Are.”

Best known as the longtime host of Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz, which has aired on National Public Radio and featured more than 500 guests since 1978, McPartland, 86, broke onto the American jazz scene as a performer more than five decades ago. Since the 1950s, she has recorded more than 60 albums and published several books, including Marian McPartland’s Jazz World: All in Good Time (University of Illinois Press, 2003). During the 1960s, she helped develop a jazz education program for students in Washington, D.C., public schools, and in 1986 was inducted into the International Association of Jazz Education Hall of Fame.

McPartland opened her set with Kern’s “All the Things You Are,” then invited requests from the audience, playing renditions of Tad Dameron’s “If You Could See Me Now,” her own “Twilight World” and Bill Evans’ “Waltz for Debbie.”

Between tunes, McPartland riffed on her life and career, sharing anecdotes about her friends, jazz legends Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington, and cited several other artists, including Teddy Wilson and Mary Lou Williams, as inspirations. She got her first professional break in the 1930s as a teenager in England with a four-piano vaudeville act.

“My mother said, ‘Oh, what’ll happen to you? You’ll marry a musician and live in an attic.’ And of course I did,” McPartland said, referring to her late husband, American-born cornet player Jimmy McPartland, whom she met in Belgium in 1944, when the two were performing in USO Camp Shows for U.S. and British troops.

At the event, Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham University, presented the jazz legend with the University’s Sapientia et Doctrina medallion in recognition of her lifelong commitment to the arts and education.

— Ryan Stellabotte

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