Marian McPartland, a renowned jazz pianist and longtime host of the National Public Radio show “Piano Jazz,” has died at the age of 95.
McPartland died of natural causes last night at her Port Washington home on Long Island, said NPR spokeswoman Anna Christopher Bross.
In a career spanning more than six decades, McPartland became a fixture in the jazz world as a talented musician and well-loved radio personality.
“Retire? Why retire? I’ve got a job, I’m making money, I like what I do. Why retire?” she asked in 2009. “I think I’ll jump out of a cake, or something.”
Born Margaret Marian Turner in England, she began playing piano at age 3. At 17, she was accepted to the prestigious Guildhall School of Music.
During World War II, while playing for Allied troops and their British equivalents, she met her husband, cornetist Jimmy McPartland. He died in 1991.
The couple came to live in New York in 1953, and McPartland landed a gig in a trio at the Hickory House, a bustling jazz hub on 52nd Street.
McPartland recorded more than 50 albums for the Concord Jazz label and played in venues across the country, before gaining an even bigger audience.
In 1978, McPartland brought her talent for composition and status as a jazz insider to radio, and began hosting the Peabody Award-winning “Piano Jazz.”
On the air, she and her guests sat at separate pianos, reminiscing, ad-libbing, and playing duets and solos. She hosted hundreds of jazz professionals.
Charming, energetic, and always ready for a musical adventure, McPartland was well-suited to the role of live radio host, entertaining audiences for many years.