Written by Grant Jackson from NPR
Stacy Rowles once wrote a note to her father, pianist and composer Jimmy Rowles, stating: “Dear Dad, if you buy me a flugelhorn, I’ll play the [expletive] out of it.” Indeed she did, and she picked up singing, as well. A longtime mainstay on the Los Angeles jazz scene, Rowles worked with the all-female quintet the Jazzbirds, led by the late multi-instrumentalist Betty O’Hara, as well as the Jazz Tap Ensemble and the DIVA Big Band.
Recently, host Marian McPartland remembered this 2001 session with Rowles.
“I didn’t know much about her except through her father, Jimmy,” McPartland says. “She was such a pleasure to work with on the program.”
Stacey Rowles died in 2009 from complications following an auto accident. This episode of Piano Jazz — with Rowles, bassist Todd Warrington and host Marian McPartland — is presented in her memory.
The trio opens the session with “There Is No Greater Love,” an upbeat tune that suits the bright yet mellow tone of Rowles’ flugelhorn. She then puts the horn aside to deliver a smoky vocal in “When the Stars Come Out at Night,” a little-known Ray Nobel tune and a favorite of her late father.
“He was so good at finding these esoteric tunes that nobody else plays,” McPartland says.
“This is a really nice one,” Rowles said. “I really enjoy doing this tune.”
Father and daughter initially worked together on instrumental arrangements, and after he began arranging for voice and doing some singing himself, she followed suit.
“I had 15 good years of working with him,” Rowles said. “It was a good, long time that we had together playing.”
Next on the session, the trio performs a Lee Morgan tune, “Ceora.” Rowles then sits out while McPartland and Warrington play a duet version of “Prelude to a Kiss.”
“Is that a Jimmy Rowles favorite?” McPartland asks.
“Absolutely, Duke Ellington was his favorite,” Rowles said. “In fact, when I was looking in his music file, I opened the ‘E’ file and there was nothing but Duke Ellington.”
The session continues as Rowles’ horn carries the breezy melody of “Emily” by Johnny Mandel and Johnny Mercer. Her relaxed playing sets the mood for this theme from the film The Americanization of Emily.
“I think it’s my all-time favorite Johnny Mandel tune,” Rowles said. “He’s such a beautiful composer and arranger. He’s just wonderful.”
Rowles sings in a swinging arrangement of “Time After Time,” and the trio wraps up the session with another Jimmy Rowles tune — his arrangement of Ellington’s “Take the A Flat Train.”
Originally recorded Nov. 15, 2000. Originally broadcast March 20, 2001.