Jimmy & Marian McPartland | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Jimmy & Marian McPartland 

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To younger listeners, Marian McPartland may actually be the better known of these two--her long-running public radio program, Piano Jazz, has ensured that--but jazz history has fully lionized the man who lent Marian his good name. Jimmy McPartland, who played cornet, was a charter member of the Austin High Gang, the clique of young white musicians at Chicago's Austin High School who in the mid-20s came up with their own version of the transplanted New Orleans sounds of Armstrong and King Oliver. The result was the vibrant, edgy, swaggering Chicago School, which became a dominant influence in jazz of the 20s and 30s, and established forever the place of the sunny and economical cornetist (who finally curtailed his regular performance schedule in the early 80s). Marian Turner McPartland, who kept the alliterative surname after the couple divorced, remains a constant inspiration to those who believe that personal growth doesnt have to stop at a certain age: in her 50s she started a record label and in her 60s she became a national radio personality, and her piano style has continually deepened and progressed into a quite personal, modernistic approach. Marian recently donated much of the couple's extensive memorabilia to the U. of C.'s Chicago Jazz Archive, and this concert--also featuring saxist Franz Jackson and bassist Truck Parham--was arranged to celebrate that gift and benefit the archive. In essence, it's yet another gift on the part of these remarkable personages of jazz history. Saturday, 8 PM, Mandel Hall, University of Chicago, 5706 S. University; 702-8068.

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