Myra Melford


Myra Melford was born in Evanston, Illinois, United States on January 5th, 1957 and is the Pianist. At the age of 67, Myra Melford biography, profession, age, height, weight, eye color, hair color, build, measurements, education, career, dating/affair, family, news updates, and networth are available.

Date of Birth
January 5, 1957
United States
Place of Birth
Evanston, Illinois, United States
67 years old
Zodiac Sign
Composer, Jazz Musician, Pianist
Myra Melford Height, Weight, Eye Color and Hair Color

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Myra Melford Life

Myra Melford, an American avant-garde jazz pianist and composer, is a writer and scholar.

Melford, a 2013 Guggenheim Fellow, was described as a "explosive player, a shocker, and a performer who makes the piano stand up and do things that otherwise wasn't intended for."

Early life and education

Melford was born in Evanston, Illinois, and was raised in a Frank Lloyd Wright house. She began playing the piano on her own, climbed onto the piano bench and improvising at three years old. When she was in kindergarten, she began taking lessons. Erwin Helfer, a classically trained boogie-woogie player, had a close relationship with her teacher. Helfer introduced her to classical composers like Bach, Bartók, and later taught her to play the blues. Melford performed blues festivals, and she was often invited backstage to see some of Chicago's most popular performers. Melford also started to investigate improvisation on its own.

Melford, who was leaning toward performing classical repertoire, attended a Northwestern University extension program in junior high school. She referred to her experience as a classical piano student as "not right" and, although she continued to play informally, she stopped her formal education in high school.

Melford studied environmental science at Everest State College in Olympia, Washington. Although she wasn't listening to jazz at the time and did not grow up listening to it, she knew that it involved improvisation, and that when she saw an advertisement for jazz piano lessons in a local restaurant, she started learning again. "There were two records that were on repeat for several years," Cecil Taylor's Air Above Mountains and Ornette Coleman's The Shape of Jazz to Come" recalled her. She converted from film to music in 1980 and spent time with Art Lande and Gary Peacock.

Melford lived in Olympia and met famous avant-garde performers such as Oliver Lake, Anthony Braxton, Marty Ehrlich, and Leroy Jenkins, whose appearance with Amina Claudine Myers and Pheeroan akLaff reignited her dedication to innovation.


Myra Melford Career


Melford moved to New York City in 1984, where she studied composition with saxophonist Henry Threadgill, whom she would later cite as a major influence on her organic composition. She also worked privately with pianists Jaki Byard and Don Pullen, whose perceptive demeanors she adapted.

Melford, Leroy Jenkins, and Butch Morris were among others' bands upon his arrival in New York. She performed and recorded with flutist Marion Brandis in the late 1980s and formed a trio with bassist Lindsey Horner and drummer Reggie Nicholson. Her career soared in the early 1990s as she appeared on the first Knitting Factory tour of Europe and released three albums with Horner and Nicholson (1990), now & Now (1991), and Alive in the House of Saints, a live album released in 1993.

Melford's trio expanded to larger groups with varied instruments, including trumpeter Dave Douglas and reed player Marty Ehrlich, who then formed the Myra Melford Extended Ensemble in the 1990s. Douglas, cellist Erik Friedlander, reed player Chris Speed, and drummer Michael Sarin all formed a second five-piece team in Twice, including Douglas, cellist Erik Friedlander, reed player Chris Speed, and drummer Michael Sarin. On Gramavision, their self-titled debut album was released in 1996, followed by 1999's Above Blue on Arabesque. Melford appeared as an improvisational collaborator on the 1996 Hatology album Eleven Ghosts, which featured duets performed by Dutch drummer Han Bennink; and Equal Interest, a 1999 Omnitone release by the three artists of the same name, starring Melford with Jenkins and Joseph Jarman of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, featuring Melford. Melford performed on harmonium as well as piano in the Equal Interest group. Melford became one of the best-known performers and composers on the west coast by the end of the decade, with the Seattle Times describing her as a "explosive pianist who alternately caresses and pounds the keys and weaves in improvisational swatches."

Melford formed Crush, a trio in which she performed piano and harmonium with Kenny Wollesen on drums and Stomu Takeishi on electric bass. Dance Beyond the Colour by Arabesque will be published later this year. She went to Calcutta in September to study harmonium with Sohanlal Sharma as a Fulbright scholar. She spent months with Sharma, focusing on raga and Hindustani classical music, as well as continuing her studies with other musicians in Delhi and Rajistan. She continued her studies with Sudhir Nayak in Mumbai.

Melford spent time in upstate New York after returning to the United States. She then formed Be Bread, a Deviant Ensemble based on her experience in India, and she continued to perform music based on her experiences in India. Despite the fact that it was unveiled until 2006, Be Bread's debut album, The Image of Your Body (whose name was derived from a Rumi poem), was released in 2003, as was Where the Two World Touch by Myra Melford's The Tent, which was not released by Arabesque.

Melford accepted a position as a Professor of contemporary improvisational music at the University of California Berkeley in Berkeley, California. Melford, along with bassist Mark Dresser and drummer Matt Wilson, formed Trio M, their debut album on Cryptogramophone in 2006. In 2012, it was followed by The Guest House on Enja/Yellowbird.

Melford performs with clarinetist/composer Ben Goldberg, who she encountered just after she arrived in Berkeley in the duo Dialogue. In 2012, Melford formed Snowy Egret, which featured bassist Takeishi, guitarist Liberty Ellman, trumpeter Ron Miles, and drummer Tyshawn Sole. Melford received the 2012 Alpert Award for "her ascension and expansion, a generous musical intellect, and her ability to bring many musical traditions into another sphere."

Melford's first solo album was released in October 2013. The album Life Carries Me This Way is a collection of paintings influenced by Don Reich's paintings. Snowy Egret performed the music for Melford's multimedia project Language of Dreams in the same year and received both the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation's Performing Artist Award and a Doris Duke Residency to Build Demand for the Arts.

In addition to lecturing on jazz and improvisation-based music for performers and composers at Berkeley, Melford has developed and taught a range of courses in contemporary jazz and improvisation-based music for performers and composers.


Myra Melford Awards

Selected honors, fellowships, and awards

  • Guggenheim Fellowship (2013)
  • Doris Duke Charitable Foundation's Performing Artist Award (2013)
  • Alpert Award in the Arts for Music (2012)
  • Jazz Journalists Association Pianist of the Year (2008, 2009)
  • Jazz Journalists Association Composer of the Year (2004)
  • Fulbright scholar (2000)
  • New York Foundation for the Arts Composition Fellowship (1998,2002, 2008)
  • Chamber Music America New Jazz Works Commissioning grant (2003)