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Longtime NPR jazz host Marian McPartland dead at 95

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Marian McPartland, a British musician who hosted a jazz program on National Public Radio for more than four decades, has died at age 95, NPR said on its website.

McPartland, the longtime host of Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz, died of natural causes at her Long Island home on Tuesday, NPR said.

As host, the jazz pianist paired conversation and duet performances, reaching an audience of millions as she interviewed jazz luminaries, before stepping down in 2011.

Born Margaret Marian Turner in Slough, England, she married American soldier and cornetist Jimmy McPartland in 1946 and discovered music at an early age.

She told NPR in 2005 that her interest in music started after she heard her mother play piano, saying "From that moment on, I don't remember ever not playing piano, day and night, wherever I was."

McPartland recorded and performed throughout the 1950s and into the next decade, then turned to lecturing at colleges and in 1964 began an interview and music program on New York's WBAI-FM, which paved the way for Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz on NPR in 1978.

Among her scores of albums, she was paired with jazz legends including Dizzy Gillespie, Carmen McRae and Shirley Horn. Her honors included a 2004 lifetime achievement Grammy award.

(Reporting by Chris Michaud; Editing by Vicki Allen)

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