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Tuesday, September 14, 2021

The Middle Road - Jimmy McPartland


Stranger In The Night

The Middle Road
Jimmy McPartland and His Orchestra
Jazztone Society Classic J-1227


Jimmy McPartland - Cornet
Marian McPartland - Piano
Bill Stegmeyer - Clarinet
Bud Freeman - Tenor Sax
Vic Dickerson - Trombone
Joe Morello - Drums
Milt Hinton - Bass

From the back cover: 

James Duigold McPartland was right there at the beginning of what has come to be known as "Chicago Style" jazz. Of Scottish extraction, Jimmy was born in the Windy City on March 15, 1907 and began playing violin at the age of five, switching to cornet at fifteen. A charter member of the famous Austin High School Gang, Jim, along with his banjo playing brother Dick, Bud Freeman on C Melody sax, Frank Teschemacher, violin and Jim Lannigan, piano, drew early inspiration from the Original New Orleans Rhythm Kings and the Wolverines. The Austin High Gang soon augmented their little band: Frank Teschemacher switched from fiddle to clarinet and Lannigan from piano to bass, while Dave Tough, Floyd O'Brien and Dave North moved in on drums, trombone and piano. This was in 1923, and it was also at about this time that McPartland first ran into young Benny Goodman, with whom he was soon to work and later to play.

In 1925 Jimmy replaced the great Bix Beiderbecke in the Wolverines, and a year later he joined Art Kassel. Then, from 1927 to 1929, he worked with Ben Pollack's orchestra along with Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller and several other now famous names. The depression years found him working in Broadway pit bands and with a succession of "commercial" groups. In 1936 he broke loose and formed his own little jazz combo, leaving it a few years later to join Jack Teagarden, with whom he remained until the war broke out. In 1941 Jimmy became a member of the Second Infantry Division and was a combat soldier in the Normandy invasion. Later on, while playing with a USO unit in Belgium in 1944, he met Marian Page, a British pianist working with another USO troupe. They were married in Aachen, Germany, in 1945 and returned to the United States very soon after the war was over. Back in the States, Marian and Jimmy worked together for a while but soon split up – professionally, that is. For the past few years Jimmy has  been freelancing, playing with his own and other jazz groups around the country.

Marian Margret Turner "Page" McPartland was born in Windsor, England on March 20, 1920. Coming from a musical family, she first studied violin and didn't get around to the piano until she was seventeen and a scholarship student at the Guildhall School of Music. She made her professional debut as half of a piano team and, with the outbreak of war, began working with ENSA and, later on, its American counterpart, the USO. After the war, as member of her husband's band, Marian began to attract the enthusiastic attention of both critics and fans, and she soon struck out on her own with the now famous Marian McPartland Trio. Combining a tremendous drive and an unerring sense of time with intelligent and sensitive musicianship. Marian is now acknowledged to be one of the world's finest jazz pianists, regardless of sex.

Lawrence "Bud" Freeman is often mistakenly considered a member of jazzdom's old guard. Born in Chicago on April 13, 1906, Bud, who is another alumnus of Austin High School, is far from traditional in either his ideas, his tone or his general musical outlook. A veteran of such bands as Ben Pollack's, Red Nichols', Ray Noble's, Benny Goodman's and Tommy Dorsey's, Bud has a style which, though easily recognizable, is not one that can be pegged as either dixieland, swing or modern. It is his own particular way of playing, and it has managed to cut across the artificial boundaries frequently set up by critics and cultists.

Vic Dickerson is another musician who has managed to find himself accepted as a master by his colleagues in all schools of jazz. Self-taught, Vic was born in Xenia, Ohio, in 1906. Until the 1930's, Vic worked throughout the midwest with dozens of now forgotten bands. In 1931 he joined Blanche Calloway, then worked with Claude Hopkins, Benny Carter, Count Basie, Sidney Bechet, Hot Lips Page, Frankie Newton and Eddie Heywood. For the past few years Vic has had his own groups, recorded prolifically with all sorts of combos, and has become a fixture in New York and Boston jazz circles

Bill Stegmeyer, who did all the arrangements for this session, was born in Lexington, Kentucky, on October 8, 1916. A former member of the original Glenn Miller band, Bill also worked with Bob Crosby, Billy Butterfield and several other jazz groups in New York. For the past few years he has been engaged principally in radio and television work as an arranger and is responsible for most of the writing on the "Hit Parade."

Milt Hinton was born in 1910 in Vicksburg, Mississippi, and began his professional career in Chicago in 1932, first with Eddie South and then with Erskine Tate. He was with Cab Calloway from 1937 to 1942, and since then has been one of the most active and prolific bass players in the business, recording with modern, swing, dixieland and what-have-you groups as well as with combos under his own leadership.

Joe Morello has been with the Marian McPartland Trio since 1953 and has come to be recognized as one of the tastiest and most exciting of the younger drummers. Born in Springfield, Massachusetts, on July 17, 1928, his first big job was with Glen Gray in 1950. Before joining Marian he worked briefly with guitarist Johnny Smith at The Embers in New York and Stan Kenton. – Nat Shapiro

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