‘Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz’ Ends 45 Year Run

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Shari Hutchinson MOLLY HARRELL

VESTAL, NY (WSKG) – Five years after the death of its host and namesake, Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz is ending distribution to the nation’s public radio stations.

The announcement was made in letter sent to public radio station managers by longtime producer Shari Hutchinson. Since McPartland’s death in August 2013, Hutchinson has resurrected, renovated and redistributed Piano Jazz programs, some dating back to the early 1980s:

Dear colleagues,

For reasons I can’t explain but for which I am extremely grateful, I have been granted the joy to work on Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz, in various capacities, since the early 1980s. As the show itself evolved, my roles changed from recording and mastering engineer to producer. These roles ultimately led to becoming friend and confidante of the late, great Marian McPartland. As many have noted, Piano Jazz was NPR’s longest-lived cultural program and among the most widely listened to programs of its kind in the world.

Before she passed away at age 95, I promised Marian I would do all I could to keep the legacy of Piano Jazz alive. To honor this commitment, we have continued distributing the program through NPR, and many of you have continued to offer it to your audiences. We have accumulate an archive of more than 700 programs, restored and digitized through federal and matching grants of the Friends of Piano Jazz. More importantly, audiences worldwide continue to cherish Marian and her amazing guests in conversation and jazz performance, with all its glorious variations.

Earlier this year, South Carolina Public Radio joined with our perennial partners, the ETV Endowment of South Carolina and NPR, to celebrate the 100th Birthday of Marian McPartland. This was a fitting culmination of her legendary life and her equally legendary radio program. It made me so proud; I know Marian would be as well.

Yet all things must change, and so it is with me as I prepare to retire from SC Public Radio after 42 wonderful years. Piano Jazz itself will also retire at the end of September 2018. Please know work continues to maintain the archive and to promote its use for education and as a resource for public radio. But for now, we turn a corner and see where the road ahead will take us. Thank you all so very much for your loyal carriage and support of the program! As Marian would say, “It has been a real kick!”

With best wishes,

Shari Hutchinson
Producer, Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz

Piano Jazz liked to feature up-and-coming musicians –€” in this case, a young Joshua Redman. PHOTO COURTESY NPR.

For more than 40 years, jazz pianist Marian McPartland gave the world an intimate, insider’s perspective on one of the most elusive topics in music — jazz improvisation.

As host to Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz, she paired conversation and duet performances that reached an audience of millions, connecting with jazz fans and the curious alike. She interviewed practically every major jazz musician of the post-WWII era.

Through September, Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz will continue to air on Friday evenings on WSKG radio and again Saturday evenings on WSQX radio.  Then it will be replaced by Jazz Night in America.

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