March 20: Jazz pianist Marian McPartland is born and the Mariners very early Opening Day
Jazz pianist Marian McPartland is born — 1918
The incomparable Marian McPartland, surely the most beloved of all jazz pianists, was born on this day, 1918, in Slough, England.* In 1946, she moved to America with her husband, cornet-player Jimmy McPartland, and began to make a name for herself in the Chicago jazz scene.
In the male-dominated jazz world in which she lived, Marian was a formidable talent and a formidable presence. She focused on jazz education beginning in the mid-1950s and started her own record label (Halcyon) in 1969. She headlined the first Women’s Jazz Festival in 1978.
Her NPR radio show, Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz, in which she interviewed and performed with all manner of top-tier jazz musicians, debuted in 1979 and can still be heard today at the NPR website.
Above I refer to her as "Marion" rather than "Mrs. McPartland" because I feel like I’m on a first-name basis with her. I’ve felt that way since my very early days as a jazz program host when I was once asked to escort Marian at a small dinner party. It was a delightful and hilarious evening. And, yes, I can testify that Marian’s language could be very direct and very…let us say…"salty." I only mention it because it sounded so wonderfully odd coming from this seemingly "to the manor born" lady. I, like many, loved the musician as much as I loved the music.
For a song to celebrate her and remember her by, I’m choosing her version of Lennon/McCartney’s "In My Life." After she died in 2013, this is the song I found myself going to most frequently. I’m sure you have your own favorite. You should play it.
*Slough is also famous as the location for the British TV comedy The Office. It is not, however, the location of Slough House, of Apple TV fame and a series of first-rate novels by Mick Herron.
Mariners Opening Day game — March 20, 2016
I guess we could call this the earliest Opening Day game played in the history of the Seattle Mariners—if we’re willing to stretch that factoid about as far as it can go.
First of all, the game was played in Japan, against the Oakland Athletics and began at 2 a.m. Seattle local time. Second, even though it counted as the first game the two teams played in official Major League Baseball, it seems like it was also a semi-exhibition game. It was the final Mariners game for Ichiro Suzuki and a bi-national farewell to him on the field.
So, does it count? Well, another "this day in history" site devoted strictly to baseball says that the earliest opening game for the Mariners—and, apparently for all of baseball—was the M’s against the Chicago White Sox in the old Kingdome on March 31, 1996.
The only thing I can tell you for sure is that the Mariners won both those games.