Stacy Sullivan “On The Air” with Marian McPartland

 

Marian McPartland

Marian McPartland

 

Stacy Sullivan

Stacy Sullivan

 

 

The Music and Lyrics of Jazz Great Marian McPartland

 

 

 

From My Seat in the Room Mari Lyn Henry

 

Stacy Sullivan brought the house down at the Metropolitan Room on January 16th with her loving tribute to the late Marian McPartland (1918-2013). “On the Air” is a tapestry of stories and the music heard through the years on Ms. McPartland’s NPR show Piano Jazz. Listening to dozens of interviews, extensive research and the personal friendship she enjoyed with Marian are the foundation for the narrative and variety of music used in her portrait of this pioneer of jazz education.

The legacy of this brilliant composer was honored in 2000 when she was named National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master, given a Grammy Award for lifetime achievement in 2004 and inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2007.

Marian McPartland was born in England in the village of Slough and was supposed to be a classical pianist. She started playing Chopin on the piano at a very early age. She felt strongly that she could “command” the keys. She also preferred jazz over Chopin and Mozart. When she came to America after World War ll, she met the leading jazz musicians of the day including Duke Ellington who told her she “played so many notes.”

Stacy Sullivan opened the program with a perfect arrangement of the Ellington medley — Beginning To See the Light, It Don’t Mean A Thing and Jump for Joy.. Chopin’s Waltz Op. 69 No. One morphs into Kern and Hammerstein’s All The Things You Are followed by Rodgers and Hart’s My Heart Stood Still which she rendered with such feeling and exquisite finesse. What comes next are three of McPartland’s compositions rarely heard today: the poignant love song Twilight World with Johnny Mercer, the lush Castles in the Sand with the solo bass accompaniment of Steve Doyle then enhanced by the piano virtuosity of Jon Weber and Stranger in A Dream with Irving Caesar.

The bluesy notes in Nightlife by Willie Nelson reflect the musicians’ hours of 9PM-3AM. The game changer for Marian McPartland was when she heard Nelson’s Stardust Album. She loved the sounds of “country”.

I have never heard Oh What A Beautiful Morning from the musical Oklahoma (Stacy’s a native) sung with such sweet, sensitive, sincerity. Sondheim’s Loving You from Passion gets under the skin, the evocative blue notes in Ellington/Gordon’s Prelude to A Kiss; the pairing of Warren/Dubin’s September in the Rain with Norah Jones’s Come Away With Me; In the Days Of Our Love which McPartland composed with her ‘soul’ sister Peggy Lee and Shearing/Weiss’ Lullaby of Birdland.

If music be the food of love, the love was in this program.

The encore was a show stopper. Stacy sitting next to Jon Weber on his piano bench, putting her cheek on his shoulder, touching his long hair with tender affection and seductively singing I’ve Got A Crush On You. I was sitting close enough to the piano to see him blush. Somebody said every guy in the room wanted to be Jon Weber.

www.metropolitanroom.com  212 206-0440

 

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