In a world dominated by men, Marian McPartland distinguished herself as one of the greatest jazz pianists of her age
Born in the UK as Margaret Marian Turner, Marian McPartland learned to play classical piano, but was passionately attracted to the rhythms of American jazz. Entertaining troops in WWII Europe, she met her future husband, Jimmy McPartland, a cocky young trumpet player who was the protege of the great Bix Beiderbecke. They were married and, together, they made jazz history. At first, Marian played second fiddle to Jimmy in Chicago, but when they moved to New York, Marian and her trio took up residence at the famous Hickory House where she thrilled the crowds from her perch on a stage in the middle of large oval bar. From there she went on to triumphs at places like the Montreaux Jazz Festival. Possibly, her greatest accomplishment was the creation of NPR's long-running show Piano Jazz.
More than the life story of one of our greatest artists, Shall We Play That One Together? by Paul de Barros chronicles an age when jazz was a vital art form. Just as inviting as Marian's signature question on Piano Jazz, Shall We Play That One Together? is an invitation to readers everywhere to listen to the score of a bygone age.
“…de Barros jauntily chronicles her dazzling life lived in the company of jazz greats from Oscar Peterson, Bobby Short, and Duke Ellington to Diana Krall and Chick Corea. Drawing on innumerable interviews and unrestricted access to McPartland’s personal archives, de Barros produces a truly engaging biography of this jazz genius.”—Publishers Weekly
“The story of the distinguished female jazz pianist who devoted herself to her art and won popularity, the respect of her colleagues and just about every honor the profession bestows. There will not be a more richly detailed biography of McPartland… A splendid catalogue of McPartland’s achievements, although readers may stumble in the great tangle of detail.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Engrossing and illuminating… De Barros approaches McPartland's long, rich life as both a knowledgeable fan of her musical achievements and an evenhanded observer of her personal highs and lows…The overall portrait De Barros presents is that of an open-minded, openhearted artist who struggled over seemingly insurmountable circumstances, not the least being gender prejudice, to continue evolving, growing, giving back as much inspiration as she reaped. It is a story of jazz in the midst of its first — and one hopes, not its last — century.”—The Seattle Times
""Marian is a walking history book on jazz. I loved reading her anecdotes. I grew up listening to Jimmy McPartland. Their long and stormy life together is one of the great love stories in jazz. Paul de Barros does a terrific job bringing her story to life.”—Clint Eastwood
“Everything Marian McPartland plays is truly tasteful. Not once do you think to yourself, ‘Why did she do that?’ She is one of the truly great jazz artists. With an intelligence and wit worthy of McPartland herself, Paul de Barros has reached back into Marian's life to explain just how this remarkable woman came to be.”—Tony Bennett