Pianist Marian McPartland, who died yesterday at the age of 95, went back — back to the early days of jazz. She also went forward, to new songs, new musicians and new ways of communicating — like her radio show, “Piano Jazz,” which has been a popular feature on National Public Radio since 1978.
It is through that show, which was live and usually included a guest whom McPartland interviewed and made music with, that most people knew her. She was a wonderful host, charming, playful, knowledgeable, full of good stories and cheer. And, unlike many hosts, you could tell she was actually listening to her guest.
Residents of the Capital Region were even luckier. McPartland performed around here frequently, including at The Egg and the Van Dyck. It was like being with an old friend — a very talented one.
McPartland was a respected musician in a primarily male field, who also wrote essays and articles about the jazz world. She was a jazz pioneer and legend, and will be missed.