Myra Melford biography

Myra Melford Of all the plaudits pianist and composer Myra Melford has received over the last several years, Coda magazine says it best: "Melford is at once a dancer, a romantic, and a savage suckerpuncher at the bench...beating all hell out of the piano and making it beautiful."  Working at the juncture where Jazz and New Music co-mingle, Melford delivers pockets of extended improvisation and impassioned ensemble interplay that are in turn reflective and exuberant, poignant and whimsical, exhilarating and gentle.  The Philadelphia Inquirer hails her as "a bracingly original soloist," The Village Voice as "an engrossing composer."

Melford has made numerous recordings, including 1997's Eleven Ghosts -- a duet with drummer Han Bennink, released to critical acclaim on the Swiss label hat Art.  The Same River, Twice (Gramavision/Rykodisc), featuring Melford's quintet, was noted by jazz critics as one of the best discs of 1996; the follow-up on Arabesque, Above Blue, was released in Fall 1999.  Down Beat magazine awarded five stars to the 1995 Even the Sounds Shine (hat Art), featuring Melford's Extended Ensemble; and the Myra Melford Trio (with Lindsay Horner on bass and Reggie Nicholson on drums) can be heard on Alive in the House of Saints (hat Art), Now and Now (Enemy), and Jump (Enemy).

As a soloist or leader of her own ensembles, Melford has performed extensively in the United States, Canada, and Europe.  She has appeared at jazz festivals such as Chicago; Monterey; New York; North Sea in Holland; Vitoria in Spain; Clusone, Verona, and Bolzano in Italy; and Vancouver in Canada.  Most recently, Equal Interest completed a phenomenally well-received tour of England and Europe in Fall 1999.

Melford was awarded an Artist's Residency at the Djerassi Program in Woodside, California (1998), and at the Burlington Jazz Festival in Vermont (1997).  In 1995, she was featured on Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz broadcast on National Public Radio.   Melford was a semifinalist in the Thelonious Monk International Piano Competition, and Down Beat Critics' polls have honored her as "talent-deserving-wider-recognition" as a pianist in 1991, '92, '94 and '95, and as a composer in addition to pianist in 1997 and '98.

As a composer, Melford has received numerous commissions including the dance-theater score My House Was Collapsing to One Side, premiered at Dance Theater Workshop (New York City) in 1996.  Previous commissions include a collaboration with poet Reuben Jackson, as well as D Train, an evening-length score for the Fay Simpson Dance Theater.  Melford is the recipient of two Arts International Grants to perform at foreign festivals, two Composition Fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, as well as commissioning grants from the Mary Flager Cary Charitable Trust and Meet the Composer.

As a guest artist, Melford appears on Joseph Jarman and Leroy Jenkins's Out of the Mist (Ocean Records), Butch Morris's Testament (New World Records), Henry Threadgill's Make a Move (Sony) and Leroy Jenkins's Themes and Improvisations on the Blues (CRI).  She is a member of Dave Douglas's Prasad Trio, performing on harmonium.

A native of Evanston, Illinois, Melford earned a B.A. from Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.  She completed her studies with Art Lande and Gary Peacock at the Cornish Institute in Seattle, and with Henry Threadgill and Don Pullen in New York City.

[Visit Myra Melford's website.]

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