Aug 21, 2013
When the news reached me today than legendary jazz pianist and longtime National Public Radio host Marian McPartland has passed away, I was reminded of my time with one of many great artists who tolerated a young music writer early in my career.
On October 8, 1983, I interviewed Mrs. McPartland as a preview for an upcoming appearance she would be making in Clearwater, Florida, with her husband, Jimmy McPartland, and her old friend and frequent onstage partner, George Shearing.
MARIAN McPARTLAND podcast excerpt: "If everybody is playing well together — bass, drums, piano —I swear there is some kind of sexual thing that is set up. In the music! Of course, it could go to the other thing, too! I won't say it couldn't."
It was one of many interviews I conducted that are like fingernails on a blackboard to me today, but that helped shape my approach to the job.
Mostly, however, it was an unrehearsed moment with a jazz great, as she responds to problem with the phone connection – “Oh, sh*t!” – and compares a great combo on a great night as akin to sex.
Fortunately, the audio cassette containing this interview survived the years. I’ve sweetened the audio to the best of my ability; if you’re a fan of Marian McPartland, I hope you can get past my simplistic questions and enjoy the lady herself.