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Recording Academy Trustees Award recipient and longtime host of NPR's "Piano Jazz" program Marian McPartland died Aug. 20 of natural causes. She was 95. Born Margaret Marian Turner in England, McPartland took an interest in piano as a young girl after warching her mother play. In England she joined a piano-based vaudeville act and performed across Europe for American troops during World War II. She subsequently met her husband, cornet player and U.S. soldier Jimmy McPartland, with whom she moved to Chicago in 1946. After relocating to New York, she formed her own trio and performed regularly at the Embers and the Hickory House throughout the '50s. McPartland released several albums throughout nearly seven decades, including more than 60 albums on Concord Records such as 2008's Twilight World, which peaked at No. 9 on Billboard's Top Jazz Albums chart. McPartland earned her lone GRAMMY nomination of her career in 1979 for Best Instrumental Composition for "Ambiance." That same year McPartland launched "Piano Jazz," an NPR program that featured the pianist pairing conversation and duet performances with jazz musicians such as her first guest, the late jazz pianist/composer Billy Taylor, Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, and Pee Wee Russell, among others. In 2004 McPartland was honored with a Recording Academy Trustees Award. "Our culture has lost a national treasure, and jazz music will greatly miss one of its most ardent and beloved supporters," said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy. "Our deepest sympathies go out to her family, friends, and all who were enlightened and elevated by her music and discourse.
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