CONCIERTO EN ARGENTINA ,HISTORIAS DE UNA GIRA :1974
Marian McPartland interview, January 3-4, 1997, and May 26, 1998, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Interviewee: Marian McPartland (1918- ) Interviewer: James Williams (1951-2004) WILLIAMS: O.k. let me mention just one or two other names from the past that I wanted to ask you about. Did you know, and this is still dealing with the piano again,how was someone like Earl Hines?
McPARTLAND: I had the good fortune to go to South America with Earl Hines, because George Wein set up this tour. I was very pleased to be on it. It was me, EllisLarkins, Teddy Wilson, and Earl Hines. I already knew Earl. I met him with Jimmy, andI’d heard him years before when they had this group with Louis and Jack Teagarden andEarl. That was a short-lived group, but I did hear Earl then and on other occasions inclubs. He was always very very nice to me, fatherly and encouraging me and “You soundgood” and all this stuff. I was fascinated. He took a tune by Herb Alpert, which sort of surprised me. “Close to You.” Remember that tune? It was interesting to be on this tour, which wasabout a month or six weeks. He would be working into this tune. He would play it everynight, and you would . . . It would be like somebody doing a sculpture, starting with apiece of clay, and as nights went by, you’d see the thing take shape, how he would change the harmony and improve on the choruses. It was really fascinating to see how he developed some new tune that he was going to play. Then he played a lot of things that . . . in his repertoire. It used to amaze me that he would seem to get so far away from the tune. He would start rhythmically. It would be like [laughs] he would be wriggling and wriggling and wriggling and getting into a corner, and you’d think he’s never going to get out of this, with all these sheets of sound and things that he was doing. He’s painting himself into a corner. He’s never going to be able to come back to the melody. Of course he always did. As you know, he was a great showman. Just watching him night after night was a fascinating experience. He allowed me to record him for Halcyon. We recorded the four of them for my label. I made the record in Argentina. The engineer couldn’t speak English, and I had to have someone translate everything so that he knew what I wanted to do. We did it live in this concert hall. I carried this huge reel of tape all across South America, through Ecuador, Peru, Chile, and everywhere. Brought it back to the States and “Jeez, is there anything on the thing?” Took it to the studio, and it was perfect. The sound, everything, was really great.
McPARTLAND: Thinks like . . . [laughs] for instance I had this engineer. This is just one instance. Teddy [Wilson] and I made this record together, and . . . Wait a minute. Which one was it? No, I think it was in Argentina. Teddy made a horrible . . . played a really bad note. I said to this engineer—we were listening to everything—I said, “My God, let’s get rid of that for him. Let’s take that out.” It is so clever what they do. Theytake a little phrase from somewhere else. You probably know this. They had the samethree notes in another part of the tune. He was able to take it and take out the bad noteand put in this other little piece. It was neat. It’s so clever. Years later I was able to do that, recording with Dave Brubeck. I did that same thing. Played a terrible wrong note. Phil Edwards, the engineer with Concord, he was able to take that out in the same way. That’s just one on many things. Hearing the different things and deciding what was better, and the balance, but most of all, hagglingwith distributors. That’s the biggest thing. Trying to get publicity. Actually, we didn’t dobadly, now that I think about it. But so many people . . . It was a rash of mail-order records. Mingus did it first of all. Remember that? WILLIAMS: Debut Records. Yes.