Marian McPartland choses “Piano Jazz” successor: Jon Weber

Pianist and NPR “Piano Jazz” host Marian McPartland, age 93, has found a worthy  
successor to her post interviewing and duetting with musicians —  Jon Weber, an extraordinarily fluent keyboard artist with encyclopedia depth on many of the earliest styles of American improvised music. Though rather under-recorded, Jon excels at the most intricate (and frequently obscure) compositions of the great stride piano masters (James P. Johnson at their head) as well as writing and arranging his own works, which fall into the modern-mainstream category: tuneful, rhythmically varied, harmonically sophisticated. (Thanks to the Chicago Tribune’s Howard Reich for this news).

Jon has served as a host of one of the rooms of the annual Jazz Foundation of America loft benefit parties; I’ve seen/heard him wield the ready wit and engaging stage presence to pull off being almost-live on-air with guest musicians from across genres.

Ms. McPartland, captured in an amatuer video playing “I”m Old Fashioned” at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Colo (in Jazz at Lincoln Center) in 2010, initiated “Piano Jazz” in 1979, and it’s easier t0 name the musicians she hasn’t engaged

in musical dialog than those she has. A sophisticated and gracious woman — when I first met her in 1977 when reviewing her stand at Rick’s Café American in Chicago, she looked me up and down and said, flatteringly, “I was expecting a much older man” — she will be missed but not forgotten; dozens of the “Piano Jazz” shows are archived and she will long be listened to, mixing it up with Bill Evans, Mary Lou Williams, Eubie Blake, Elvis Costello with Allen Toussaint, among many others.

A hard act to follow, but welcome Jon! Come forth swinging.

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  1. Mike says

    What a great, grand lady of jazz, and a great program. I’m sure she chose her successor well but it won’t be quite the same anymore. One of my very favorite recorded interviews of any kind was Marian’s “Piano Jazz” hour with Sarah Vaughan in 1986:

    Sarah’s interviews were so rare; listening to Sarah and Marian giggle and joke back and forth in this program is priceless. As, of course, was the playing.

  2. Heesa says

    I can’t think of a better successor to host an NPR Piano Jazz show. Jon Weber’s engaging showmanship and amazing knowledge of music, history and composers should make the new program a hit ! We are looking forward to hearing much more from Jon Weber.