The song of the day for Saturday, March 20, 2021, is “Twilight World.”
The Year of Tony Bennett is honoring pianist Marian McPartland on the anniversary of her birth on March 20, 1918, in Slough, England. She showed remarkable aptitude on the piano from an early age and received a musical education as a girl. She studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. But she yearned to play jazz piano and in 1938 left school to join a four-piano vaudeville act, followed by other engagements. When World War II started, she volunteered for the Entertainment National Service Association and played for Allied troops, and later hired on with the USO. She was assigned to a group called the Band Wagon and played throughout the war. In 1944, she met a soldier-cornetist from Chicago named Jimmy McPartland and they were soon wed.
By 1946, the couple was back in the United States, where Jimmy formed a group including Marian on piano. In 1952, she got a gig at the Hickory House in New York, where she played with her trio (Joe Morello on drums and Bill Crow on bass) until the early 1960s. A frequent visitor to the club was Duke Ellington, who told her that she played too many notes and she definitely took his advice.
Many Americans know Marian McPartland from her wildly successful and award-winning public radio program called Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz (which your author seldom missed) from 1979 to 2011.
Tony Bennett was a guest on the show in 1990:
In addition to her career as a jazz pianist, she was also a noted writer. Her book All In Good Time is a favorite of mine, especially the audio version, narrated by the author.
McPartland remained active until her death from natural causes on August 20, 2013, at the age of 95.
About This Song
Marian McPartland wrote “Twilight World” in 1957, with lyrics from Johnny Mercer. This ballad has proven to be one of her most enduring and popular songs. The tune itself is a lovely mid-tempo ballad, sometimes played in a bossa nova style. The lyrics by Johnny Mercer are quite good, and the combination makes for a nearly perfect jazz song. Tony Bennett said “well, that song will last forever. It’s a beautiful song.”
About This Version
Tony Bennett recorded “Twilight World” in 1971 for his album With Love, featuring an arrangement by Robert Farnon.
“Twilight World,” as well as With Love, is available from Apple Music.