Gene Kelly and Marian McPartland

Gene KellyBefore we get to birthdays, I want to discuss a death. On Tuesday, jazz musician Marian McPartland died at the fine old age of 95. She is best known as the host of Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz, an NPR show she hosted for almost three and a half decades. The thing about her was that she wasn’t just someone who appreciated jazz. She was the real thing and the show demonstrated that. She only stepped down from hosting the show less than two years ago when she was 93.

One doesn’t normally think of the Brits being able to play jazz. (The French, yes; see below.) But she is really good. Here she is performing her own tune “Afterglow” back in 1975 at the Monterey Jazz Festival. That’s almost 40 years ago! She is already missed, but you can find an enormous amount of her work online.

On this day in 1829, historian of mathematics Moritz Cantor was born. American sculptor Alexander Milne Calder was born in 1846. Astronomer Sarah Frances Whiting was born in 1847. Poet William Ernest Henley was born in 1849. Romantic composer Moritz Moszkowski was born in 1854. Here is his Piano Concerto in E:

Biographer Edgar Lee Masters was born in 1868. Russian sculptor Eugene Lanceray was born in 1875. Satirist Will Cuppy was born in 1884. Modern composer Ernst Krenek was born in 1900. I can almost guarantee that you won’t like his work. Folk singer Malvina Reynolds was born the same year. And I think you will like this, which sums up a good deal of my personal philosophy:

Creator of Nancy, cartoonist Ernie Bushmiller was born in 1905. And no, I’m not a fan, but I do like the visual style. Graphic artist Hannah Frank was born in 1908. The great film director Robert Mulligan was born in 1925. He is best known for directing one of my favorite films, To Kill a Mockingbird. Here is one of my (Everyone’s?) favorite scenes. Crahan Denton as Mr. Cunningham is particularly great:

Drummer Keith Moon was born in 1946. And River Phoenix was born in 1970.

Economist Robert Solow 89 today. Jazz pianist and composer Martial Solal is 86. Here he is with his band in 1965 doing a hell of a version of “On Green Dolphin Street”:

Political humorist Mark Russell is 81. Actor Barbara Eden is 79. Playwright Willy Russell is 66. Christian apologist William Lane Craig is 64. He’s pretty much an idiot. Actor Shelley Long is also 64. And so is musician Rick Springfield. His song “Jessie’s Girl” is a good pop song:

The day, however, belongs to the great dancer Gene Kelly who was born in 1912. I’m not that big a fan of the man. I much prefer Fred Astaire’s style. But Kelly is quite good and was in a lot of good movies. Still, the only reason he’s here is that it’s kind of a slow day for birthdays. But this is very nice:

Happy birthday Gene Kelly!

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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