|James Dugald McPartland|
March 15, 1907|
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
March 13, 1991|
Port Washington, New York
|Labels||Prestige, MGM, Grand Award, Epic, Mercury, RCA, Jazzology|
|Austin High School Gang, the Wolverines, Ben Pollack, Eddie Condon, Marian McPartland|
James Dugald McPartland (March 15, 1907 - March 13, 1991) was an American cornetist. He worked with Eddie Condon, Art Hodes, Gene Krupa, Benny Goodman, Jack Teagarden, Tommy Dorsey, often leading his own bands. He was married to pianist Marian McPartland.
McPartland was born in Chicago, Illinois. His father was a music teacher and baseball player. He and his siblings for some time lived in orphanages. After being removed from one orphanage for fighting, he got in further trouble with the law. He credited music with turning him around: he started violin at age 5, took up the cornet at age 15.
McPartland was a member of the Austin High School Gang with Bud Freeman (tenor sax), Frank Teschemacher (clarinet), his brother Dick McPartland (banjo/guitar), brother-in-law Jim Lanigan (bass, tuba and violin), Joe Sullivan (piano), and Dave Tough (drums) in the 1920s. They were inspired by the recordings they heard at the local malt shop, the Spoon and Straw. They studied and tried to duplicate what they heard on recordings by the New Orleans Rhythm Kings and others, and would frequently visit Louis Armstrong, who was a few years their senior, and King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band.
After playing through high school, their first musical job was under the name the Blue Friars. In 1924, at age 17, McPartland went to New York City to take Bix Beiderbecke's place in the Wolverines band. Beiderbecke sat at the back of the club during the audition. They became friends and roomed together. At that time, Beiderbecke picked out the cornet for McPartland that he played throughout his career.
From 1926 to 1927, McPartland worked with Art Kassel. Also in 1927, he was a part of the McKenzie-Condon's Chicagoans recording session that produced "China Boy" and "Nobody's Sweetheart". Finally, in 1927 he joined Ben Pollack's band for two years, and was one of the main soloists (with Benny Goodman, Bud Freeman, Jack Teagarden and Glenn Miller). McPartland played on the 1928 recording of "Room 1411". He also moonlighted in Broadway pit bands. McPartland then went to New York City, and played with a number of small combos. He co-wrote the song "Makin' Friends" with Jack Teagarden.
In 1930, McPartland moved back to Chicago, working with his brother Dick, in a group called the Embassy Four. He was then a bandleader, singer, and master-of-ceremonies at the Three Deuces nightclub. He worked with Russ Columbo (1931-1932) and the Harry Reser band (1933-1935). During this period, he married singer Dorothy Williams, who along with her sister Hannah (who later married boxer Jack Dempsey), performed as the Williams Sisters, and they had a daughter, Dorothy. They soon divorced and McPartland spent time in South America.
During 1936-1941, McPartland led his own bands and joined Teagarden's Big Band until he was drafted into the army during World War II (1942-1944). After participating in the invasion of Normandy, he met his future wife in Belgium, the English pianist Margaret Marian Turner, who became better known as jazz pianist Marian McPartland. They married in Aachen, Germany and moved back to Chicago, where McPartland appeared on Windy City Jamboree before settling in New York City. Soon, he was part of the Willie 'The Lion' Smith band with Jimmy Archey, Pee Wee Russell, George 'Pops' Foster, and George Wettling. The band won a Grammy Award for the soundtrack to the 1954 film After Hours.
McPartland encouraged Marian her to develop her own style and form her own group, which led to the establishment of her long residency at the Hickory House with a trio including drummer Joe Morello. In 1948 he and Marian performed at the Brass Rail in Chicago. The stage was so small it barely held the trio and they grew a large following.
McPartland's outgoing personality and stage presence led him to try acting, resulting in a featured role in The Alcoa Hour episode "The Magic Horn" in 1956 with Sal Mineo, Ralph Meeker, and other jazz musicians. He also later performed in a production of Show Boat. In 1961, he appeared on a DuPont Show of the Month musical extravaganza called Chicago and All That Jazz, featuring Gene Krupa, Jack Teagarden, Eddie Condon, Pee Wee Russell, and Lil Armstrong.
McPartland performed as guest star with many bands and at festivals during the 1970s in the US and out of the country. The McPartlands divorced in 1970. They continued to work together, remained friends, and remarried a few weeks before Jimmy's death. He died of lung cancer in Port Washington, New York in 1991, two days before his 84th birthday.
In 1992, Jimmy McPartland was inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame.