The long and important life of Marian McPartland ended last week on Long Island, where the British native had lived for many years. McPartland was an important pianist and long-time host of a radio jazz show on National Public Radio.
The first paragraph of the obit at The Globe and Mail summed up McPartland’s amazing feat of rising to the top of the jazz world in which she was unique because of her nationality, sex and race:
Marian McPartland was a gifted musician but an unlikely candidate for jazz stardom. She recalled in a 1998 interview for National Public Radio that shortly after she arrived in the United States from England in 1946, the influential jazz critic Leonard Feather, who himself was born in England and who began his career as a pianist, said, “Oh, she’ll never make it: She’s English, white and a woman.” (Continue Reading…)
Here is an edition of her radio show — Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz — featuring Steely Dan, which is less of a surprise the more you think about it. The first tune, Duke Ellington’s Limbo Jazz, is fabulous. The show apparently is available as an album.
Above is a trailer for The First Lady of Jazz, which nicely summarizes her special status. Below is Bix Beiderbecke’s In a Mist. McPartland’s late husband, Jimmy, played with the legendary cornetist.
…for making the choice of the song for today so easy. Actually, only the title is relevant. Here is more from the band.
Donald Fagen’s fourth solo album, Sunken Condos, will be released tomorrow. DJ and Huffington Post blogger Michael Ragogna interviewed Fagen and co-producer Michael Leonhart at the site.
Here is Fagen on the album title:
I didn’t think any of the individual songs had a title that worked for an album title, so I needed something suitably apocalyptic. I remembered there’s a piece by Debussy called “Sunken Cathedrals,” so I just updated it and came up with “Sunken Condos,” which, I think, could be appreciated on different levels. You can associate it with the economic problems in the world now, the sociological problems in the world, and also my own personal situation. In other words, it’s really about getting older and maybe facing some of the realities of life. I’m sixty-four now.
The audio of one of the cuts on the album, I’m Not the Same Without You, is available at Rolling Stone. This song is very reminiscent of The Nightfly.
This great version of the song is especially energized, perhaps because it was recorded in a small venue in Clarkston, MI.
Here are FM, Pearl of the Quarter, Daddy Don’t Live in that New York City No More and Cousin Dupree. The latter two are among the great lyrics in the history of rock and roll. Two other great Donald Fagen tunes are New Frontier and the title track from The Nightfly, his terrific 1982 album.
If I am reading this correctly, Fagen is married to the mother of the late Levon Helm’s daughter. This page at Fagen’s site was written after Helm died. Steely Dan’s site appears to not have been updated recently. Here is Walter Becker’s site.