NEW YORK: Marian McPartland, a renowned jazz pianist and host of the National Public Radio show Piano Jazz, has died, NPR said Wednesday. She was 95.
McPartland died of natural causes Tuesday night at her Port Washington home on Long Island, an NPR spokeswoman said.
Over a career that spanned more than six decades, McPartland became a fixture in the jazz world as a talented musician and well-loved radio personality.
In an interview in 2007, the then-89-year-old said she saw no reason to retire.
“Retire? Why retire? I’ve got a job, I’m making money, and I like what I do. Why retire?” she asked. “I think I’ll jump out of a cake, or something.”
Born Margaret Marian Turner in England, she began playing classical piano at the age of 3. At 17, she was accepted to the prestigious Guildhall School of Music. She left in her third year to play piano with a touring vaudeville act — to the chagrin of her parents, who she said were “horrified,” and a professor who called popular music “rubbish.”
During World War II, while playing for Allied troops with the USO and its British equivalent, she met her husband, Chicago 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 where she brushed elbows with such greats as Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman.
McPartland recorded more than 50 albums for the Concord Jazz label and played in venues across the country.