"From her first album in 1991, it was
clear that this pianist and composer would stay around,"
the New York Times said of Myra Melford.
Melford has not only stuck around but flourished over the past
decade, with performances in over 30 countries, major awards for
composition and piano performance, and work with some of the
world's most innovative musicians. Melford's staying power is the
product of ceaseless musical travels: she's always going
somewhere. As Francis Davis noted, "Myra Melford is the
genuine article, the most gifted pianist/composer to emerge from
jazz since Anthony Davis."
At the keyboard, Melford recasts the blues and
boogie-woogie of her Chicago hometown with the rangy, percussive
avant-garde stylings she cultivated in work with Don Pullen and Henry Threadgill - all enhanced by lush lyricism and organized by
an architectural sense of composition she derived from classical
Melford's remarkable breadth is ordered by a thoughtful,
expressive sensibility, evocatively described by Coda Magazine:
"Myra 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."
In the early '90s Melford toured and recorded
extensively with her acclaimed trio featuring Lindsey Horner on
bass and Reggie Nicholson on drums. Their 1993 recording Alive in
the House of Saints will be reissued by Hat Art in late 2000.
Melford currently leads or co-leads four groups,
which have all recorded in the past two years.
Recently Melford began applying her drive for innovation to the
harmonium, a small hand-pump organ traditionally used in Indian
and Pakistani devotional music. Melford has been awarded a
Fulbright scholarship to study North Indian music on the
instrument with Sohanlal Sharma in Calcutta, where she will be in
residency from September, 2000 through May, 2001.
As Melford continues to turn musical corners with
new instruments, inventive compositions, and further ensembles,
you get the feeling that her artistry could still go anywhere. As
Jazziz magazine noted, "The confidence to go so
far into uncharted territory and the ability to carry listeners
along - then bring them back - attest to Melford's vision."
As a guest artist, Melford appears on Joseph
Jarman's recent release Lifetime Visions and Jarman's and Leroy
Jenkins' Out of the Mist (Ocean Records); Butch Morris' Testament
(New World Records); Henry Threadgill's Makin' a Move (Sony); and
Leroy Jenkins' Themes and Improvisations on the Blues (CRI). She
is a member of Dave Douglas' SATYA group, 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.
Myra Melford Trio - 1990 Enemy
Alive in the House of Saints, Myra
Melford Trio - 1993 hatART
Even the Sounds Shine, Myra Melford
Extended Ensemble - 1995 hatART
Above Blue, The Same River, Twice
(quintet) - 1999 Arabesque
Now & Now, Myra Melford Trio - 1991
October Revolution, Myra Melford Trio -
The Same River, Twice, The Same River,
Twice - 1996 Gramavision/Ryko
Dance Beyond the Color, Crush (trio) -
Biography courtesy of Saudades