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Tribute Celebrates Marian McPartland

First Long Island-wide scholarship given in the legendary jazz pianist’s name.

Jon Weber host of NPR's Piano Jazz plays a few of Marian McPartland's compositions. Credit: Susan Herbst
Jon Weber host of NPR's Piano Jazz plays a few of Marian McPartland's compositions. Credit: Susan Herbst

Marian McPartland, the late jazz legend whose career spanned World War II-ravaged Europe to the American jazz scene of the 1950s and later her own show on NPR, has been honored with a Long Island Music Hall of Fame scholarship in her name.

A host of dignitaries – including Marian McPartland’s family and those from NPR, Port Washington Public Library and Landmark on Main Street – gathered Saturday in Port Washington, to celebrate her life and her music and to give the first scholarship.

Jeff James, who chairs the Port Jefferson-based Long Island Music Hall of Fame, said the organization recently announced that it has $10,000 in scholarships – $5,000 for graduating Brooklyn, Queens, Nassau and Suffolk county students pursuing a musical career; and $5,000 for non-profit music organizations and institutions.

McPartland, who died in August 2013 at the age of 95, had called Long Island home. Born in England, she made her way to the United States with her husband, cornetist Jimmy McPartland, whom she performed with and married during World War II. They moved first to his hometown of Chicago, making their way to New York before ultimately settling in Port Washington

She spent her life devoted to the music she loved, and made a point to introduce jazz to children across the country and support young talent.

“She was a neighbor who donated music, and performed here,” said Nancy Curtain, the executive director of the Port Washington Library.

Those performances included a 1998 jazz gala for the 25th anniversary of the Port Washington library’s music advisory council at the Landmark and featured McPartland, Dick Hyman, Derek Smith with special honoree, Marilyn Horne.

Saturday’s tribute also included clips from “In Good Time: The Piano Jazz of Marian McPartland,” a documentary by Huey Coleman, who said she “was supportive of the film,” and even held a question-answer-session at the library when it was screened there when the film debuted in 2011.

Also at Saturday’s performance were Jimmy McPartland's grandchildren, who earlier in the week attended a Marian McPartland tribute at 92nd Street Y. 

Performances Saturday included Schreiber High School students Noah Milstein on bass and Adam Tuch on piano. Also performing was clarinetist Ethan Usoskin, the recipient of the first Long Island Music Hall of Fame “Marian McPartland Memorial Scholarship.”

The evening concluded with featured performer, Jon Weber, pianist and host of NPR's Piano Jazz. Weber was accompanied by Saadi Zain on bass, and Stacy Sullivan on vocals.  

Editor's Note: Adina Genn is Ethan Usoskin's mother. 
Adina Genn March 25, 2014 at 07:52 AM
Hi Ann, What a beautiful memory! Thank you for sharing.
Paul Michael Barkan March 25, 2014 at 08:15 AM
As a teenager, I looked forward to Marian's annual Summer appearances at the Usdan Center in Wheatley Heights. She was the consummate class act: blazing technical wizardry and impeccable taste matched only by her generosity and humanity.
Adina Genn March 25, 2014 at 08:42 AM
Thank you Bonnie!
Adina Genn March 25, 2014 at 08:43 AM
Paul, that must have been quite a performance, at a perfect setting!
Paul Michael Barkan March 25, 2014 at 10:53 AM
She appeared every summer, and it never got old!

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