That all these people – more than a thousand of them – could be seduced by McPartland into playful conversational and musical improvisation is a wonder. Has anyone else done this? Will anyone do it now?
For me the most gratifying thing was how these shows allowed personal approaches to musicians who were otherwise intimidating icons. One example: Bill Evans was someone who I think of as a brilliant musician, but unapproachable and even withdrawn as a person. With McPartland he instantly loosened up and became warm and welcoming, opening up how his mind worked as he created some of the absolute best (‘Kind of Blue’) jazz ever. McPartland had this effect on people, disarming them with her charm.
At times she could be a little too chummy, at least for my taste; there could be something too predictable about her constant cheer. But listen here – who produces forty years of weekly shows without cultivating a few well worn stylistic habits? If all there is to criticize about McPartland was that she was too happy and too loving, well, we should all be so lucky.
Thank you, Marian McPartland for your generosity, which brought so many of us these marvelous enchantments and joy.
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