Born: March 15, 1907 | Died: March 13, 1991 Primary Instrument: Cornet
Jimmy McPartland (James Dugald McPartland) was an American cornetist and one of the originators of Chicago Jazz. McPartland worked with Eddie Condon, Art Hodes, Gene Krupa, Benny Goodman, Jack Teagarden, Tommy Dorsey and other jazz veterans, often leading his own bands.
McPartland's father was a music teacher and baseball player. Family problems caused Jimmy and his siblings to be partly raised in orphanages. After being kicked out of one orphanage for fighting, he got in further trouble with the law. Fortunately, he had started violin at age 5, then took up the cornet at age 15. He credited music with turning him around. He confessed that if it weren't for music, he probably would have been a hoodlum.
McPartland was a member of the legendary Austin High Gang with Bud Freeman (tenor sax), Frank Teschemacher (clarinet), brother Dick McPartland (banjo/guitar), brother-in-law, Jim Lanigan (Bass, Tuba and Violin), Joe Sullivan (piano) and Dave Tough (drums) in the 1920s. They were inspired by the recordings they heard at the local malt shop, The Spoon and Straw. They would study and try to duplicate what they heard on recordings by The New Orleans Rhythm Kings and others, and would frequently visit with Louis Armstrong (only a few years their senior) and King Oliver's band at Lincoln Gardens.
After playing through high school, their first musical job was under the name The Blue Friars. In 1924, at age 17, McPartland was then called to New York to take Bix Beiderbecke's place in the Wolverine Orchestra. Bix quietly sat in the back of the club during the audition, later revealing himself with the compliment, I like ya, kid. Ya sound like me, but you don't copy me. They became friends and roomed together while Bix gave McPartland pointers. At that time, Bix picked out a cornet for McPartland that he then played throughout his career.
From 1926 to 1927, he worked with Art Kassel. Also in 1927, he was a part of the historic McKenzie-Condon's Chicagoans recording session that produced China Boy and Nobody's Sweetheart. Finally, in 1927 he joined Ben Pollack's band for 2 years, and was one of the main soloists (along with Benny Goodman, Bud Freeman, Jack Teagarden and Glenn Miller). He also moonlighted in Broadway pit bands. McPartland then went to New York City, and played with a number of small combos.
In 1930, he moved back to Chicago, working with his brother Dick, in a group called The Embassy Four. He was then a bandleader,singer, and master-of-ceremonies at The Three Deuces nightclub. He also worked with Russ Columbo (1931-1932) and the Harry Reser band (1933-1935). During this period, he married singer Dorothy Williams, who along with her sister Hannah (who later married boxer Jack Dempsey), performed as The Williams Sisters, and they had a daughter, Dorothy. They soon divorced and McPartland spent time in South America. From 1936-1941, McPartland led his own bands and joined Jack Teagarden's Big Band until he was drafted in the Army during World War II (1942-1944).
After participating in the Invasion of Normandy, McPartland met his future wife in Belgium, the English pianist Margaret Marian Turner.They married in Achen, Germany and moved back to Chicago before finally settling in New York. Soon, Jimmy McPartland was part of Willie 'The Lion' Smith's band (along with Jimmy Archey, Pee Wee Russell, George 'Pops' Foster, and George Wettling), which won a Grammy for their soundtrack to the 1954 film After Hours.
McPartland proudly introduced his new bride around the New York jazz scene, but knew that Marian's future didn't lie in playing traditional jazz. He encouraged her to develop her own style and form her own group, which led to the establishment of her long residency at the Hickory House, with a trio including drummer Joe Morello.
McPartland's outgoing personality and stage presence led him to try his hand at acting, resulting in a featured role in the NBC Alcoa Hour's The Magic Horn in 1956 with Sal Mineo, Ralph Meeker and other well-known jazz musicians. He also later performed in a local production of Showboat.
In 1961, McPartland appeared on a Dupont Show of the Week musical extravaganza hosted by Gary Moore, called Chicago and All That Jazz featuring many great names in jazz, including Gene Krupa, Jack Teagarden, Eddie Condon, Pee Wee Russell, and Lil Armstrong.
During the 1970's, McPartland performed as guest star with many bands and at festivals all over the world. The McPartlands divorced in 1970; however, they continued to work together, stayed friends, and remarried just a few weeks before Jimmy's death.
In October 1990, McPartland gave his last performance to honor the donation of the Jimmy and Marian McPartland Collection to the University of Chicago's Jazz Archive. He was too ill to play his horn, but sang and entertained the crowd who had come to pay tribute.
McPartland died of lung cancer in Port Washington, New York in 1991, three days before his 84th birthday. (Ironically, long-time friend, collaborator and Austin High Gang member, Bud Freeman died the next day.)
Source: Doug Kassel
- 1948: Goin' Back a Ways
- 1953: Shades of Bix
- 1954: Hot vs. Cool - MGM 10" with Dizzy Gillespie
- 1954: Won Grammy for his work in leader Willie "The Lion" Smith's band for the soundtrack to the film "After Hours."
- 1955: Singin' The Blues
- 1956: The Middle Road
- 1956: Dixieland Now and Then - Jimmy McPartland's Chicago Rompers, Paul Barbarin's New Orleans Stompers
- 1956: The Magic Horn RCA Soundtrack
- 1957: Dixieland! - Jimmy McPartland
- 1957: Chicago/Austin High School Jazz in Hi-Fi
- 1958: Dixieland at Carnegie Hall - Jimmy McPartland, Wild Bill Davison, Pee Wee Russell, Vic Dickenson, George Wettling
- 1959: That Happy Dixieland Jazz
- 1959: Jimmy McPartland and His Dixieland
- 1959: The Music Man Goes Dixieland - Jimmy McPartland's All-Stars: Jimmy McPartland, cornet; Charlie Shavers, trumpet; Dick Cary, trumpet; Cutty Cutshall, trombone; Bud Freeman, sax; Coleman Hawkins, tenor sax; Peanuts Hucko, clarinet; Cliff Leeman, drums; Eddie Condon, guitar; Milt Hinton, bass; Gene Schroeder, piano.
- 1959: Meet Me in Chicago - with Art Hodes
- 1960: Jimmy & Marian McPartland Play TV Themes
- 1965: That Happy Dixieland Jazz
- 1966: Manassas Jazz Festival- Maxine Sullivan, Doc Souchon, Cliff Jackson, and "Fat Cat" McRee (Jazzology J-17)
- 1972: Marian and Jimmy McPartland: A Sentimental Journey - Marian and Jimmy McPartland with special guests Vic Dickenson, Gus Johnson, Buddy Tate.
- 1972: The McPartland's Live at the Monticello, with Marian McPartland, Recorded in 1972. (Halcyon HAL107)
- 1973: Swingin'
- 1974: One Night Stand
- 1976: Jazz Meeting in Holland - Bud Freeman, Ted Easton
- 1979: At The Festival
- 1988: Chicago Jazz Summit CD
- 1994: Happy Dixieland CD
- 1998: Thanks For Dropping By CD
- 2002: The Classic Columbia Condon Mob Sessions
- 2005: Condon/McPartland Chicagoans - Live in Concert Meriden, CT 1969
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