Sedona Film Festival features 'Piano Jazz' documentary

February 21, 2012

The Sedona Film Festival is underway in the red rocks of Northern Arizona. One of the films featured at this year’s festival is “In Good Time.” It’s a documentary about the life of jazz pianist and long-time host of NPR’s “Piano Jazz,” Marian McPartland.

Marian McPartland/NPR Marian McPartland is the long-time host of NPR's "Piano Jazz." (Photo courtesy of RJ Capak - NPR)

MARIAN MCPARTLAND: What is a jazz player? It’s improv, it’s a sense of humor, creativity, ability to play in all 12 keys.

TERRY WARD: Marian McPartland has been playing jazz for more than 80 years. She was born in southern England and studied classical music beginning at age 3 but – much to the disapproval of her parents – switched to jazz as a teenager, as she relates in this excerpt from a live performance and conversation celebrating her 90th birthday.

MCPARTLAND: My mother was wringing her hands and saying, “Oh, you’re gonna marry a musician and live in an attic … and of course that’s what I did!”

WARD: The life story of McPartland is the subject of a movie that shows tomorrow at the Sedona Film Festival which plays through next Sunday. The filmmaker, known only by his one-name moniker Huey, says he had listened to McPartland on the radio for years. He says one day he was at his home in Maine, washing the dishes during her weekly show, “Piano Jazz.”

HUEY: She started to improvise and it was so beautiful, so moving I just stopped what I was doing and listened and thought, “Hey, you’re a filmmaker, and you’re a big fan. Why not see if there’s ever been a movie made about her.”

WARD: Huey has done other biographical films including one on the life of Henry David Thoreau. He says McPartland was cautious when he first approached her about the project.

HUEY: It’s quite a thing for her to let me show up at her house and asking questions, then concerts with a film crew. She was very gracious.

WARD: McPartland is now 94 years old. And while her piano chops are said to be amazingly sharp, she has been slowed by osteoporosis and no longer hosts “Piano Jazz,” although she is still the program’s artistic director. The film “In Good Time” will show at the Sedona Film Festival on Wednesday evening at 5:30.


Film trailer for “In Good Time”:

In Good Time, The Piano Jazz of Marian McPartland, Film Trailer from Films by Huey on Vimeo.