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 more than 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 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, and debuted at the Village Vanguard with Snowy Egret for a week in March 2016.
More recent projects include a duet with Ben Goldberg, Dialogue, (January 2016, BAG Records), MZM a trio with koto player Miya Masaoka and harpist Zeena Parkins (to be released July 28, 2017 on Infrequent Seams), and Tiger Trio/Unleashed with flutist Nicole Mitchell and bassist Joelle Leandre, (RogueArt, November, 2016).
Her quintet, Snowy Egret, will record their second cd for Firehouse 12 Records in fall of 2017 for a 2018 release.
She performed her composition The Strawberry with Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra at Lincoln Center and the Paramount Theater in Oakland, September 2017. Cal Performances presented her evening-length, Language of Dreams, in November 2017.
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.