Marian McPartland (Margaret Marian Turner). Born in Slough, England near Windsor, March 20, 1918, came from a family of musicians, including a great-uncle, Sir Frederick Dyson (Mayor of the City of Windsor), who played cello. McPartland studied at Guildhall and debuted professionally as part of a traveling four-piano group with the prominent British pianist Billy Mayerl before the war. While performing for the troops, she met and married Chicago Jazz cornetist Jimmy McPartland in Belgium near the end of World War II. The couple then came to the U.S. and worked together playing Chicago Jazz and Dixieland. With Jimmy’s encouragement, Marian then formed her own trio and worked at many popular spots, most famously, The Hickory House. Gradually, the club became a well-known musicians’ hangout. It was Duke Ellington’s regular dining spot whenever he was in New York. Through her many years at The Hickory House, McPartland became widely known and continued to increase her skills and reputation with other New York musicians. She hired young drummer Joe Morello, who later caught the eye of Dave Brubeck and became one of the most respected and famous Jazz drummers of all time. She later worked at places like The Composer and Cafe Carlyle in New York and at The London House in Chicago.
She has appeared at events at the White House with Presidents Nixon and Clinton, television appearances on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, Merv Griffin, Mike Douglas, Dave Garroway, and many others. and widely at jazz festivals and concert venues all over the world. She has also devoted herself to music education in schools. She has made many recordings for various labels, including her own and has composed many well regarded tunes, such as “Twilight World”, “In The Days of Our Love” and “Ambiance.” She was imortalized in the “A Great Day In Harlem” photo and subsequent movie. She is known as the host of her own long-running weekly NPR radio program, “Piano Jazz,” interviewing and playing with guest musicians for over 30 years on hundreds of public radio stations throughout the U.S. She recently was awarded an OBE from Queen Elizabeth and her Piano Jazz archives rest in the Smithsonian Institute. Marian McPartland is known as the “First Lady of Jazz” and her contribution to the art form is beyond question.