Jazz star, NPR host Marian McPartland dies at 95

Story highlights

  • Marian McPartland, host of "Piano Jazz," dead at 95
  • McPartland was an eloquent teacher and gracious host
  • Jazz pianist had a career stretching back to the World War II era
Marian McPartland, the famed jazz pianist and longtime host of NPR's "Piano Jazz" program, died Tuesday, her label confirmed.
McPartland was 95 and died of natural causes at her Port Washington, New York, home, Concord Music Group said in a statement.
McPartland had a career that spanned more than seven decades in music, first as a piano player in music halls in her native Great Britain during World War II and then in the jazz clubs of the United States. She's pictured in the classic 1958 Art Kane photograph of jazz musicians that became the basis of the documentary "A Great Day in Harlem."
"I've played jazz as long as I could hear any. And I heard plenty in England before I came over here to America," she told CNN in 2004.
She also frequently lectured at universities and served as a jazz disc jockey for a New York radio station.
But she's probably best known for her hosting of "Piano Jazz," the NPR show that began in 1979. The show was as gracious and casual as McPartland's fluid playing.
"It's so easy to make it a conversation, and you don't know where it's going to lead," McPartland once told NPR. "The whole thing is so improvised, you really don't know where it's going to go."