McPartland-Costello jazz program encores on CD
By OTIS R. TAYLOR Jr.
There is no good music or bad music. It’s all just music to Marian McPartland.
“Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz” — produced for its entire 26-year run by South Carolina’s ETV Radio — has allowed the 86-year-old jazz legend to share the radio stage with such greats as Shirley Horn, Burt Bacharach and Bobby Short. Two years ago, McPartland sat down to play with rock legend Elvis Costello. The resulting duets, which aired Sept.30, 2003, will be released on CD on Tuesday.
“I like what he’s doing now,” McPartland said of Costello. “He’s getting into a more straightforward way of singing.”
McPartland played the piano and Costello, who helped ignite the ’70s punk/new wave explosion, sang jazz standards.
Elvis and jazz? It’s not as far off as you might think. After all, he’s married to jazz sensation Diana Krall, and he has dabbled before in other genres, such as country and easy listening. But it doesn’t end there.
The Englishman’s mother was a jazz and classical records saleswoman and his father, influenced by imported jazz records from America, was a professional trumpet player and singer.
McPartland knew the elder Costello.
“It’s interesting to me that his father was a singer in an English band that I knew very well,” McPartland said. “He sang a song his father sang.”
That song, “At Last,” sits alongside Costello-written songs and standards on “Elvis Costello-Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz Radio Broadcast.” The CD will be available at most record stores and at www.concordrecords.com.
McPartland said Costello was pleasant to be around.
“It was a lot of fun for me,” she said. “I don’t get to accompany anyone that often.”
“Piano Jazz,” which airs locally at 8 p.m. Saturday on WLTR-FM 91.3 and WRJA-FM 88.1, usually has McPartland trading sounds with other jazz musicians.
Meshing genres is something McPartland does to stay fresh. Her collaboration with Costello is similar to what she did with classic rockers Steely Dan.
Shari Hutchinson, who has produced “Piano Jazz” for 20 years, said she talked to McPartland almost every day.
When searching for guests, Hutchinson said, she and McPartland talked about Costello because of his jazz background.
“She was intrigued by his playing,” Hutchinson said. “She heard the jazz influences. He’s well versed and well grounded in jazz.”
McPartland hopes to release more CDs, including one with Krall. When asked why she continues working, McPartland said she was having fun so there was no need to stop.
She told Hutchinson exactly when she would be done with music.
“She said she’s going to bop until she drops,” Hutchinson said.