Marian, Erroll and Sir George – Jazz Piano Greats on Radio – Phantom Dancer 4 Jun 2019


The Phantom Dancer feature artist with Greg Poppleton this week are feature artists – three jazz piano stars from 1950s radio: Erroll Garner, Marian McPartland and George Shearing.

The full Phantom Dancer play list of swing and jazz mixed by Greg Poppleton from live 1920s-60s radio below is ready for your perusal below.


This week’s Phantom Dancer will be online right after the 4 June 2SER live mix at
Hear the show live every Tuesday 12:04-2pm on 107.3 2SER Sydney

erroll garner


Garner began playing piano at the age of three. Garner was self-taught and remained an ear player all his life. He never learned to read music. At age seven, he began appearing on the radio station KDKA in Pittsburgh with a group called the Candy Kids. By age 11, he was playing on the Allegheny riverboats. At 14 in 1937, he joined local saxophonist Leroy Brown.

He played locally in the shadow of his older pianist brother Linton Garner.

Garner moved to New York City in 1944. He briefly worked with the bassist Slam Stewart, and though not a bebop musician, in 1947 he played with Charlie Parker on the “Cool Blues” session. Although his admission to the Pittsburgh music union was initially refused because of his inability to read music, it relented in 1956 and made him an honorary member. Garner is credited with a superb memory of music. After attending a concert by the Russian classical pianist Emil Gilels, Garner returned to his apartment and was able to play a large portion of the performed music by recall.

Garner made many tours both at home and abroad and regularly recorded.


Margaret Marian McPartland, OBE, was an English-American jazz pianist, composer, writer and Grammy winner.

She demonstrated an early aptitude at the piano and had perfect pitch. She studied violin from the age of nine, but never took to the instrument. She also trained as a vocalist and received a number of favorable reviews in the local paper. Her mother refused to find her daughter a piano teacher until the age of 16, by which time Margaret was already adept at learning songs by ear. This lack of early education meant that Marian was never a strong reader of notated music, and would always prefer to learn through listening.

Marian pursued studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, where she worked toward a performance degree that would enable her to become a concert pianist, though she also did coursework in vocal performance. She studied with Orlando Morgan, who also taught Myra Hess. Turner’s talents for improvisation and composition were recognized early when she won the Wainwright Memorial Scholarship for Composition, the Worshipful Company of Musicians Composition Scholarship, and the Chairman’s School Composition Prize in 1936 and 1937. Much to her family’s dismay, she developed a love for American jazz and musicians such as Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, Teddy Wilson, Mary Lou Williams, and many others. In 1938, Turner sought out Billy Mayerl at his School of Modern Syncopation to seek lessons, and was convinced to audition for his piano quartet. Despite her family’s efforts to keep her at Guildhall, Turner left to join Billy Mayerl’s Claviers, a four-piano vaudeville act. There, she elected to perform under the stage name of Marian Page. She promised her family that she would one day return to finish her degree at Guildhall.[8] After the Claviers tour, Marian returned to London in the fall of 1938 and played sporadically for shows and on the Carroll Lewis Show. To avoid the draft during World War II, she volunteered for the Entertainment National Service Association (ENSA), a group that was playing for Allied troops, in fall 1940. In 1944, her friend Zonie Dale recommended that Marian join the United Service Organizations (USO) because they paid more and played with American men.

With the USO, Marian went through basic training and was issued a set of combat gear – GI boots, helmet, and uniform. Marian was assigned to a group called the Band Wagon, which followed the Allied forces after the D-Day invasion. In anticipation of wartime demands, Marian learned to play the accordion in the event that there was no piano available with which to play for the troops. In St Vith, Belgium, on 14 October 1944, Marian met a Chicago cornetist named Jimmy McPartland at a jam session. McPartland had volunteered for the army and was serving active duty when his superiors realized that he could do better work as an entertainer, since he was well-known among the troops. Jimmy was solicited to put together a sextet to entertain the troops, and invited Marian to join him as their pianist. They soon fell for each other, and signed an official US Army marriage document on 14 December 1944. They married on 3 February 1945, in Aachen, Germany, and played at their own military base wedding. Her marriage to an American man automatically gave Marian US citizenship, side-by-side with her British citizenship.[3] Marian was reluctant to tell her parents of the marriage, and had Jimmy’s commanding officer tell them when he had lunch with them in England in early 1945.[10] It was with Jimmy that Marian began her first real training in jazz. Jimmy and Marian did their first recording together on 6 January 1946 in London before leaving for the US. They arrived in New York City on 23 April 1946, and Marian would never live outside of the US again. However, she kept her British citizenship throughout her life.

After the war, Marian and Jimmy moved to Chicago to be near his family. Jimmy grew up in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago, and was an original member of the Austin High Gang that popularized Chicago-style Dixieland jazz in the 1920s. In June 1946, Marian made her American debut at the Moose Lodge. Soon, Jimmy’s group, which now included Marian, landed a standing gig at the Rose Bowl through the end of 1946. This engagement was followed by ones at Taboo, Capitol Lounge, and finally Brass Rail. Marian flourished in Jimmy’s group, and by association with him. They played at exclusive clubs like Blue Note and Silhouette with stars like Billie Holiday.

During their Chicago years, Jimmy and Marian also visited France in 1949 for the Paris Jazz Festival. This was semi-important for their association with the European jazz scene, but more significant because it marked the beginning of Marian’s writing career. Marian’s testimonial about the festival ran in the July 1949 issue of Down Beat.

In 1949, the McPartlands settled in Manhattan, living in an apartment in the same building as the Nordstrom Sisters. In 1950, she announced that she would no longer go by her stage name, Marian Page, but would now go by her married name, Marian McPartland. With Jimmy’s help and encouragement, Marian started her own trio, which started performing at the newly opened 54th street club called The Embers on 8 May 1951. Here, she learned how to lead her own group, and played with greats such as Roy Eldridge, Coleman Hawkins, and Terry Gibbs. After trying out different combos, she settled on a trio of piano, bass, and drums that would soon become standard. This gig led to the notorious Leonard Feather review that opened by saying: “Oh, she’ll never make it: she’s English, white and a woman.” She signed her first record deal without Jimmy in 1951, with Savoy Records. On 2 February 1952, Marian opened a gig at the Hickory House that would continue regularly through November 1962. During her time at the Hickory House, Duke Ellington would often come in to listen. Ellington was influential on McPartland’s development as a pianist, and told her she played too many notes, a sentiment she would take to heart.

In 1958 a black and white group portrait of 57 notable jazz musicians, including McPartland, was photographed in front of a brownstone in Harlem, New York City. Art Kane, a freelance photographer working for Esquire magazine, took the photo, which was called, “A Great Day in Harlem”, and it became a well-known image of New York’s jazz musicians of the time. Immediately preceding her death in August 2013, she was one of only four of the 57 participating musicians who were still alive. After many years of recording for labels such as Capitol, Savoy, Argo, Sesac, Time, and Dot, in 1969 she founded her own record label, Halcyon Records, before having a long association with the Concord label. Marian and Jimmy divorced in 1972, but they remained close, and remarried in 1991, shortly before Jimmy’s death.

george shearing


Sir George Albert Shearing, OBE, was a British jazz pianist and composer of over 300 titles, including the jazz standards ‘Lullaby of Birdland’ and ‘Conception’. He had multiple albums on the Billboard charts during the 1950s, 1960s, 1980s and 1990s.

Shearing also started to learn piano at the age of three and began formal training at Linden Lodge School for the Blind, where he spent four years.

Though he was offered several scholarships, Shearing opted to perform at a local pub, the Mason’s Arms in Lambeth, for ’25 bob a week’ playing piano and accordion. He joined an all-blind band during that time and was influenced by the records of Teddy Wilson and Fats Waller. Shearing made his first BBC radio broadcast during this time after befriending Leonard Feather, with whom he started recording in 1937.

In 1940, Shearing joined Harry Parry’s popular band and contributed to the comeback of Stéphane Grappelli. Shearing won six consecutive Top Pianist Melody Maker polls during this time.

In 1947, Shearing emigrated to the United States, where his harmonically complex style mixing swing, bop and modern classical influences gained popularity.

In 1949, he formed the first George Shearing Quintet, a band with Margie Hyams (vibraphone), Chuck Wayne (guitar), later replaced by Toots Thielemans (listed as John Tillman), John Levy (bass), and Denzil Best (drums). This line-up recorded for Discovery, Savoy, and MGM, including the immensely popular single ‘September in the Rain’ (MGM), which sold over 900,000 copies.

Shearing’s interest in classical music resulted in some performances with concert orchestras in the 1950s and 1960s, and his solos frequently drew upon the music of Satie, Delius, and Debussy for inspiration. He became known for a piano technique known as “The Shearing Sound”, a type of double melody block chord, with an additional fifth part that doubles the melody an octave lower. With the piano playing these five voices, Shearing would double the top voice with the vibraphone and the bottom voice with the guitar to create his signature sound.


This week’s Phantom Dancer video of the week is a trailer for a documentary about Marian Mc Partland . Enjoy!


Play List – The Phantom Dancer
107.3 2SER-FM Sydney, Live Stream, Digital Radio
Community Radio Network Show CRN #389

107.3 2SER Tuesday 4 June 2019
After the 2SER 12 noon news, 12:04 – 2:00pm (+10 hours GMT)
National Program:
Edge FM Bega Monday 3 – 4pm
7MID Oatlands Tuesday 8 – 9pm
2ARM Armidale Friday 12 – 1pm
3MGB Mallacoota Sunday 5 – 6am
and early morning on 23 other stations.

Set 1
Dance Bands on 1940s Radio
Open + Song of India
Billy Bishop Orchestra
‘One Night Stand’
Trianon Ballroom
AFRS Re-broadcast
25 Feb 1945
The Moon of Monokoa
Ray Noble Orchestra (voc) Tony Martin
‘Songs of the Islands’
AFRS Hollywood
Hittin’ on the Keys
Ted Straeter Orchestra
‘Spotlight Bands’
Hammond General Hospital
AFRS Re-broadcast
9 Apr 1945
Set 2
Early Stan Kenton
Low Bridge
Stan Kenton Orchestra
Radio Transcription
Los Angeles
Nov 1941
Summer Idyll
Stan Kenton Orchestra (voc) Red Dorris
Radio Transcription
Los Angeles
Nov 1941
‘S Wonderful
Stan Kenton Orchestra
Radio Transcription
Los Angeles
Nov 1941
Set 3
Cocoanut Grove 1932-34
Rose Room (theme)+ A Boy and a Girl Were Dancing
Phil Harris Orchestra (voc) Geoffery Gill
Radio Transcription
Los Angeles
We’ve Got To Pit That Sun Back in the Sky
Jimmy Grier (voc) The Three Ambassadors
Radio Transcription
Los Angeles
I’ve Got a Right to Sing the Blues + Goodnight Sweetheart + Close
Ted Fio Rito Orchestra (voc) Rusty Bennett
Radio Transcription
Los Angeles
Set 4
Piano Jazz Stars
Lullaby of Birdland + Louisiana Hayride
Erroll Garner Trio
‘All-Star Parade of Bands’
24 Jul 1953
Falling in Love
Marian McPartland
‘All-Star Parade of Bands’
23 Apr 1956
Carnegie Horizons + Close
George Shearing
‘Stars in Jazz’
3 Jul 1952
Set 5
Count Basie 1940s-50s Radio
Rock a Bye Basie
Count Basie Orchestra
Los Angeles
Sep 1945
Jumpin’ at the Woodside
Count Basie Orchestra
31 Aug 1952
Andy’s Blues
Count Basie Orchestra
Avadon Ballroom
KHJ Mutual LA
Jun 1946
Paradise Squat + Lullaby of Birdland
Count Basie Orchestra
‘Stars in Jazz’
16 Jan 1953
Set 6
1930s British Dance Bands
That Lindy Hop
Roy Fox Orchestra
Comm Rec
Nobody’s Using It Now
Debroy Somers Orchestra (voc) Tom Barratt
Comm Rec
11 Mar 1930
I Always Keep My Girl Out Late
Jack Jackson Orchestra (voc) Trio
Comm Rec
25 Aug 1933
Rhythm Mad
Billy Cotton Orchestra
Comm Rec
26 Mar 1935
Set 7
1930s Dance Bands
The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down
Dick Jurgens Orchestra (voc) Eddy Howard
Radio Transcription
Between The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
Isham Jones Orchestra
WOR Mutual NY
31 Jan 1936
The Continental
Henry Busse Orchestra
Radio Transcription
Bye Bye Blues + Close
Hal Kemp Orchestra
‘Lady Esther Serenade’
26 Aug 1936
Set 8
Modern Sounds on Radio
Just You, Just Me
Tadd Dameron
‘Symphony Sid Show’
Royal Roost
Sep 1948
Chubby Jackson
‘Symphony Sid Show’
Royal Roost
5 Mar 1949
Ain’t You a Mess
Stan Getz
Red Hill Inn
Pennsauken NY
18 May 1957

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