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Jimmy McPartland This Week on Riverwalk Jazz

Published: 2011-07-28
Jimmy McPartland This week, Riverwalk Jazz pays tribute to the Chicago jazz cornetist Jimmy McPartland, husband of public radio's Marian McPartland. The couple met in Britain while Jimmy was serving in the armed forces during WWII.

The program is distributed in the US by Public Radio International, on Sirius/XM sattelite radio and can be streamed on- demand from the Riverwalk Jazz website.

Jimmy McPartland played alongside Bix Beiderbecke
Bix Beiderbecke
Bix Beiderbecke
1903 - 1931
cornet
and Benny Goodman
Benny Goodman
Benny Goodman
1909 - 1986
clarinet
, and is credited as one of the architects of “Chicago Jazz." His playing career spanned six decades.

McPartland was a rough-and-tumble kid from Chicago's West Side where he attended Austin High School in the early 1920s with his brother Dick and classmates Frank Teschemacher, Bud Freeman
Bud Freeman
Bud Freeman
1906 - 1991
sax, tenor
and Jim Lannigan. They were captivated by the spirited new jazz that was everywhere in Chicago—The New Orleans Rhythm Kings, King Oliver, Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong
1901 - 1971
trumpet
, and the Wolverine Orchestra with Bix Beiderbecke. Inspired to get up their own group, Jimmy became the leader of the “Austin High Gang," as they later became known, and which, at one time or another, included the future jazz stars saxophonist Bud Freeman, pianist Joe Sullivan
Joe Sullivan
Joe Sullivan
b.1906
, drummer Dave Tough
Dave Tough
Dave Tough
1907 - 1948
drums
, reedman Frank Teschemacher and guitarist Eddie Condon
Eddie Condon
Eddie Condon
1905 - 1973
guitar
.

In 1924, Jazz Age cornet star Bix Beiderbecke recommended the 17-year-old Jimmy McPartland as his replacement when he left the Wolverines. Arriving at the Cinderella Ballroom in New York to audition for the break of a lifetime, Jimmy recalled, “We finished the rehearsal and I said, 'when am I gonna meet Bix?..'.He came walking toward me and we met in the middle of the dance floor...he said, 'I like you, kid. You sound like me but you don't copy me.'" Before he left town to join the Goldkette Orchestra, Bix bought Jimmy a cornet which he played and treasured for the rest of his life.

McPartland made his first recording with the Wolverines in 1925. Leaving the group a year later, he worked with bandleader Art Kassel before achieving great acclaim with Ben Pollack's Orchestra in the late 1920s in a group with Benny Goodman, Jack Teagarden
Jack Teagarden
Jack Teagarden
1905 - 1964
trombone
, and former Austin High Gang member Bud Freeman.

Marian McPartland
Marian McPartland
Marian McPartland
1918 - 2013
piano
recalls her husband Jimmy as a gracious and gregarious man, much loved by everyone around him. He was a sportsman, an amateur boxer, a strong swimmer and an expert fly fisherman. Marian has often reminisced of summer days spent fly casting on Pike Lake in Wisconsin at his friend Squirrel Ashcraft's cottage. She says Jimmy took a child-like pleasure in the simple things of life, and notes that his favorite saying was, “Do it gracefully."

Though Marian and Jimmy divorced, the couple remarried in 1991, just two weeks before Jimmy's death.


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