Jimmy McPartland Day

March 15, 1907 – March 13, 1991

A tribute to the cornetist

Cornetist Jimmy McPartland was born on March 15, 1907, in Chicago, Illinois.

McPartland, who played the violin when he was five, switched permanently to the cornet a decade later.

He credits music with having saved his life after having undergone a rough childhood.

McPartland was a member of the Austin High School Gang, a group of young white students in the early 1920s who were so inspired by the African-American jazz artists that they saw in Chicago clubs that they became significant musicians themselves.

At 17, Jimmy McPartland succeeded Bix Beiderbecke with the Wolverines, making his recording debut in 1924.

After working with bandleader Art Kassel, McPartland recorded in 1927 with the McKenzie-Condon Chicagoans, became the cornet soloist with Ben Pollack (1927-29) next to Benny Goodman and Jack Teagarden, and freelanced during the Depression and the swing era.

While in Europe in 1944, he met and married a pianist named Margaret Marian Turner, who later became well known as Marian McPartland.

Back in the U.S., Jimmy McPartland played with a variety of Dixieland bands throughout his life up until his death on March 13, 1991, two days before what would have been his 84th birthday.

This hot version of “At The Jazz Band Ball” from 1975 features an all-star band with solos from clarinetist Jack Maheu, trombonist Spiegel Willcox, Jimmy McPartland (who always had a distinctive style), Dick Cary on alto horn, violinist Joe Venuti, Marian McPartland on piano, bassist Major Holley and drummer Cliff Leeman.

-Scott Yanow


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