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Jazz Performer Marian McPartland Still Going Strong at 90


Jazz pianist and radio host Marian McPartland came to the U.S. from her native Britain in the 1940s, and carved a reputation as one of the premier ladies of jazz. As VOA's Doug Levine tells us, McPartland celebrated her 90th birthday March 20 by doing what she does best, playing jazz.

At age 90, Marian McPartland is still a long way from retirement. In fact, retirement was never an option. Even after performing with bandleader Benny Goodman, appearing at the Newport Jazz Festival, publishing a collection of writings on jazz, teaching jazz to schoolchildren, and for the past 30 years, hosting the award-winning radio program "Piano Jazz," Marian McPartland continues to look ahead.

Marian McPartland was trained in classical music but she always had an ear for jazz, especially the music of Duke Ellington and Mary Lou Williams. When she moved to New York with her husband, Chicago-born cornetist Jimmy McPartland in 1949, Marian joined the ranks of Manhattan's jazz elite. For eight years, she led a trio at the Hickory House nightclub on "The Street of Jazz," 52nd Street, experimenting with improvisation, swing and be-bop.

The loss of close friends and collaborators hasn't dampened McPartland's enthusiasm to press on. Her latest album, "Twilight World," pays tribute to some of jazz music's greatest ballads, including John Lewis' "Afternoon In Paris."

The entertainment for Marian McPartland's 90th birthday party was provided by none other than McPartland, who performed at an all-star tribute concert in her honor at Jazz at Lincoln Center.