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McPartland, jazz pianist and NPR host, dead at 95

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British jazz musician Marian McPartland (born Margaret Marian Turner) pictured in 2003 at the piano in New York’s Manhattan Beach Studios, where she recorded her NPR show.

Marian McPartland, a storied jazz pianist and host of a quarter-century old music show on National Public Radio, has died at age 95.

The musician and radio show host died Tuesday of natural causes in her home in Port Washington, Long Island.

The British star, born Margaret Marian Turner, was a prodigy who began playing piano at age 3.

McPartland, pictured in 2008, died Tuesday at the age of 95.

Seth Wenig/AP

McPartland, pictured in 2008, died Tuesday at the age of 95.

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She studied classical music at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, but soon developed a deep love of American jazz, falling under the spell of musicians like Duke Ellington, Fats Waller and Teddy Wilson.

She joined a jazz-combo that toured throughout Europe, entertaining the Allied troops during World War II. On tour, she met her husband, the Chicago cornet player Jimmy McPartland (who died in 1991). They moved to New York in 1953 where McPartland began playing at clubs like the Hickory House in the jazz center of 52nd St.

McPartland, 95, hosted the National Public Radio show ‘Piano Jazz’ for a quarter-century.

Tim Hall/Redferns

McPartland, 95, hosted the National Public Radio show ‘Piano Jazz’ for a quarter-century.

In 1958, she was featured a famous photograph of 57 key jazz musicians of the day, shot uptown, and titled “A Great Day in Harlem.”

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Over the course of her career, McPartland recorded over 50 albums and won a “Lifetime Achievement” Grammy in 2004. In 2010, she was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire.

McPartland began her Peabody Award-winning NPR show, “Piano Jazz,” in 1978. She retired from it in 2011, though she kept performing until the end.

“Retire? Why retire?” she once asked. “I’ve got a job. I’m making money, and I like what I do.”

jfarber@nydailynews.com


Music & Arts – NY Daily News

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