How ironic that WBEZ 91.5 FM is the sponsor for this live appearance of the star of National Public Radio’s longest-running, twenty-five-year music show, “Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz,” on the heels of the announcement that it and virtually all music programming is being pulled from the station. But while the 88-year-old host will be heard on the weekly airwaves virtually everywhere else, Chicago—a city close to her heart having lived here for years with her late husband and “Austin High Gang” cornetist Jimmy McPartland—will have to be content with her occasional live performances. McPartland has always had a lyrical style but with bebop harmonizations and is a quick study who is always best when she is thrown into new situations. For this “Marion McPartland Piano Night,” McPartland and two guest pianists—Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Eric Reed—will each play separately and together, which should be fascinating as no one is better than McPartland at acting as a musical chameleon and drawing the best out of other pianists with the right mix of healthy ego and camaraderie. (Dennis Polkow)
June 9 at Orchestra Hall.