The best show on NPR was Marian McPartlands Piano Jazz. I dont think I was ever sorry for having it on in the background, or ever sorry when I got drawn in to listen more closely. You could usually learn to appreciate something about the more aggressively modernistic players when they were on, and she seemed to bring out their more accessible sides. She wed her natural (and British) class to the strength, joy, and beauty of a deep tradition that she had mastered, that of the American piano jazz song-book. That book was a living presence on her show, paid homage to by each and every guest.
She passed away a few days ago , and Im too busy and not knowledgeable enough to do her work minimal justice here, but I can offer a few musical flowers for her grave, spur-of-the-moment choices reflecting my own tastes, not modern/contemporary enough to adequately reflect hers, but what I can do at the moment.
1.) Rosetta , Teddy Wilson
2.) Im Just Foolin Myself , Teddy Wilson w/ Billie Holiday
3.) How Long Blues , Count Basie
4.) Nightlife , Mary Lou Williams
5.) Walkin and Swingin , Mary Lou Williams w/ the 12 Clouds of Joy
6.) Sweet Lorraine , Eddie Heywood w/ Coleman Hawkins
7.) Ive Got My Love to Keep Me Warm , Art Tatum
8.) Well You Neednt , Thelonius Monk
9.) Myself When I Am Real , Charles Mingus
Yeah, I know, no Bill Evans, no Oscar Peterson, and on and on and on . . . but Ive got too much work to do. Here she is in the famous late-50s Great Day in Harlem photo-shoot beside two of her faves, Mary Lou Williams and Thelonious Monk.
Heres Marian herself to round things off:
10.) Easy Blues , Marian McPartland
Oh, well miss you Marian, who made the blues so easy indeed. RIP.