The night before she ws scheduled to play the ninth jazz piano concert recorded for the "Live At Maybeck Hall" series, Marian McPartland sat down at the Baldwin in her hotel room, not far from the concert hall on a hill, and toyed with a few tunes. She had a long list ranging from standards writted in the 1920s and 1930s to an offibeat, rollicking blues by Ornette Coleman and also a whirling improvisation of her own -- "the kind of modernistic things I like," she said of the latter songs. She headed toward the concert hall in high spirits, because she knew she would have a good audience in a wonderful, small hall with a nice piano. But she still hadn't decided what to play. "Well, play this thing," she told herself. "It's all going to work out."
McPartland brought her characteristic strength and classiness to each tune. To her fastidious technique, forceful sound and emotional depth, add her au courant imagination and far-ranging intellectual curiosity about all musical material, and you will arrive at some conclusions about why her concert, which she programmed intuitively on the spot for her audience, turned out to be a standard -- a vision -- for great jazz piano.