The Angel City Jazz Festival continues on Friday October 12 at 8:30pm with their second 2012 concert at a festival favorite venue, REDCAT at the Disney Hall, for two more exceptional presentations. The evening, co-presented by The Jazz Bakery, will begin with Marilyn Crispell Solo/Duo, this former Guggenheim Fellow is sure to amaze the audience with her compositions and improvisations for solo piano, and duo improvisations with Myra Melford. Her set will be followed at 9:30pm as Myra Melford brings her acclaimed Snowy Egret project to the REDCAT stage. The Theme for the 2012 festival is “Artists & Legends,” with influential artists sharing the stage with their legendary mentors.
”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 she has flourished. She has appeared on more than 20 recordings, including nine as a leader, performed in more than 30 countries, won major awards for composition and piano performance, and worked 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.
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.”
Melford currently leads or co-leads four groups, all of which have recorded in the past several years. Melford’s ongoing search for new sounds and new directions in her music led her to the harmonium, a small hand-pump organ traditionally used in Indian and Pakistani classical and devotional music. Melford was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study North Indian music on the instrument with Sohanlal Sharma in Calcutta. The fruits of her studies are heard in some of her compositions for her groups The Tent and Be Bread.
Melford is also active in music education. She is currently Assistant Professor of Improvisation and Jazz in the Music Department at the University of California at Berkeley. Her course, “Current Trends in Jazz and Improvisation-based Musics–A Performance Workshop,” allows students to explore the role of improvisation in contemporary jazz and creative music through performance. The course emphasizes developing the tools of an improviser as well as an aesthetic and critical knowledge of current practices. She 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 in private study with Henry Threadgill and Don Pullen in New York City.
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.”
Melford’s latest project Snowy Egret features a strong group of players, Kirk Knuffke on trumpet, Liberty Ellman on acoustic guitar, Stomu Takeishi on acoustic bass guitar, and Tyshawn Sorey on drums, along with noted Japanese Butoh style dancer Oguri.
Marilyn Crispell is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music where she studied classical piano and composition, and has been a resident of Woodstock, New York since 1977 when she came to study and teach at the Creative Music Studio. She discovered jazz through the music of John Coltrane, Cecil Taylor and other contemporary jazz players and composers. For ten years she was a member of the Anthony Braxton Quartet and the Reggie Workman Ensemble and has been a member of the Barry Guy New Orchestra, as well as a member of the Henry Grimes Trio, Quartet Noir (with Urs Leimgruber, Fritz Hauser and Joelle Leandre), and Anders Jormin’s Bortom Quintet.
In addition to her work as a soloist and leader of her own groups, Crispell has performed and recorded extensively with well-known American and international players. She’s also performed and recorded music by contemporary composers Robert Cogan, Pozzi Escot, John Cage, Pauline Oliveros, Manfred Niehaus and Anthony Davis (including his opera “X” with the New York City Opera).
In addition to playing, she has taught improvisation workshops and given lecture/ demonstrations at universities and art centers in the U.S., Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and has collaborated with videographers, filmmakers, dancers and poets.
Crispell has been the recipient of New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship grants, a Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust composition commission, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. In 1996 she was given an Outstanding Alumni Award by the New England Conservatory, and in 2004, was cited as being one of their 100 most outstanding alumni of the past 100 years.