Originally from Chicago and classically trained, Myra Melford is a composer with a singular, kinetic, and lyrical voice in piano improvisation. Chicago blues, architecture, jazz and experimental music inspire her work. She has released over 40 recordings, including 20 as a leader or co-leader, and maintains three bands: the celebrated quintet Snowy Egret, the collective Trio M, and the duo Dialogue with clarinetist Ben Goldberg. She is a Guggenheim Fellow for “Language of Dreams,” (2013), a Doris Duke Performing Artist (2013) an Alpert Award in the Arts recipient (2012), and has been honored numerous times in Down Beat Critic’s polls and by the Jazz Journalist Association. She was the Artistic Director and Co-curator for the 2015 New Frequencies Fest: Jazz@YBCA in San Francisco.
Recent projects include Snowy Egret (Enja/Yellowbird), her latest quintet recording released in spring 2015 and Life Carries Me This Way (Firehouse 12, 2013), a solo piano recording featuring original compositions based on the drawings of Don Reich. She presented a 25-year retrospective of her work at The Stone, in New York City, in March 2015.
Upcoming recordings include a duet with Ben Goldberg (to be released in January 2016), a duet with drummer Allison Miller, a trio with koto player Miya Masaoka and harpist Zeena Parkins, and a trio with flutist Nicole Mitchell and bassist Joelle Leandre. In March 2016, she will present Snowy Egret for a week at the Village Vanguard in New York City. In May/June 2016, she will be in residence at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, developing “Dissonant Futures,” a piece for piano, prepared piano, electronics and video with Ian Winters and Evelyn Ficarra.
Professor of Composition and Improvisational Practices, Melford joined the Department of Music at the University of California, Berkeley in 2004. Since that time she has developed and taught a series of classes on contemporary jazz, improvisation-based music and composition for undergraduate and graduate performers and composers. In addition, she lectures on innovations in jazz from 1959-1969 and how those reverberate in music and culture today.