Myra Melford


As a composer, the New York Composer’s Orchestra, the Boston Jazz Composer’s Alliance, the Lydian String Quartet, the Rova Saxophone Quartet, the Kitchen House Blend Orchestra, The New York String Trio and pianist Ursula Oppens have commissioned works from Ehrlich. To date, he has received three artists’ fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, two composition grants from the NEA, and numerous grants from the Mary Flagler Charitable Trust and from Meet the Composer.

Ehrlich has also been a composition fellow at the Civitella Ranieri Arts Center in Italy and the Blue Mountain Center in New York. In 1995 he was composer-in-residence at the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum in Boston and in 2000, he was the Peter Ivers Visiting Artist at Harvard University. Ehrlich has taught at New England Conservatory of Music and Hampshire College.

Ehrlich has also been active as a collaborator with other composers. He currently works with pianist Myra Melford in the Melford/Ehrlich Duo and in a trio with Andrew Cyrille an dMark Dresser, called C/D/E. He has also collaborated with Muhal Richard Abrams, Mike Nock, Anthony Cox and John Lindberg.

Also since 1997, Ehrlich – an original member of Hemphill’s Sextet – has conducted and performed the music of the late Julius Hemphill. Erhlich has also been in great demand as a sideman, appearing with a distinguished array or artists including: Muhal Richard Abrams, Ray Anderson, Fontella Bass, Tim Berne, Anthony Braxton, Jaki Byard, John Carter, Anthony Davis, Jack DeJohnette, James Emery, Peter Erskine, Michael Formanek, Don Grolnick, George Gruntz, Chico Hamilton, Jerome Harris, Julius Hemphill, Andrew Hill, Robin Holcomb, Wayne Horvitz, Leroy Jenkins, Oliver Lake, Myra Melford, Roscoe Mitchell, James Newton, Mike Nock, Mario Pavone, Ken Peplowski, Bobby Previte, George Russell, Randy Sandke, Leo Smith, John Zorn and others. He appears on close to 100 albums with these composers.

In the classical field, Ehrlich has performed with the New York City Opera, the New York City Ballet, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the St. Luke’s Orchestra, the Birmingham (England) Contemporary Music Ensemble and Chamber Music Northwest. He has premiered compositions written for him by David Lang and David Schiff. He has also toured with the Jose Limon and the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane companies.

Marty Ehrlich was born in 1955 in St. Paul, Minnesota. He began performing in St. Louis, Missouri, where he was raised. As a high school student, he became involved with the community of musicians and poets influenced by the innovations of St. Louis’ Black Artist Group (BAG). He took part in a recording, “Under the Sun” by the Human Arts Ensemble before leaving in 1973 for the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. AT NEC, Ehrlich studied with George Russell, Jaki Byard, Joe Maneri, Gunther Schuller and the legendary woodwind teacher, Joseph Allard, and received a B.A. in Music. Erlich graduated in 1977 as the first jazz major to be awarded the school’s Chadwick Medal for Outstanding Achievement. In 1992 he was named a Distinguished Alumni of the Conservatory.


The Guest House

Label: Enja/Yellowbird
Distribution in France: Harmonia Mundi
Release date: February 22, 2012

The Guest House, which officially hit the streets in early February, features compositions by all three musicians of Trio M (Myra Melford, Mark Dresser and Matt Wilson) , including pieces inspired by such diverse muses as the poetry of Rumi and Al-Jawahiri, the prose of Yvonne Vera, the comedy of Don Knotts and the music of Albert Ayler.
“They’ve always been tight,” explains DownBeat reviewer Jim Macnie, “but this disc finds them bringing the interaction to a superb level.” The New York Times’ Nate Chinen adds, “The Guest House, the group’s excellent second album, doesn’t feel tethered to any era or dialect. With compositions by all three members, it’s a crisp, engaging ride, variously roiling or reflective, with high-wire interplay at almost every turn.” All About Jazz journalist Troy Collins writes, “What makes this trio of equals unique is its ability to integrate disparate forms with a singularly organic sensibility. Liberally informed by past traditions and bolstered by spirited interplay, Melford, Dresser and Wilson’s thrillingly unpredictable performances update the venerable piano trio tradition with bold invention.”

Myra Melford - The Guest House

The Whole Tree Gone

Label: FireHouse 12 Records
Distribution in France: Orkhestra International
Release date: January 19, 2010

There’s always room in the precincts of improvised music for a new album by the pianist Myra Melford. “The Whole Tree Gone” (Firehouse 12), her first as a leader in more than three years, is a knockout by any standard, including the bar set by her previous work. Ambitious but approachable, suffused with airy warmth and restless calm, it unpacks a suite of lyrical compositions Ms. Melford has been refining since2004. Their character ranges from slyly furtive (“Moon Bird,” inspired by Miró) to gracefully frantic (the title track) to starkly elegiac (“A Generation Comes and Another Goes”), often shape-shifting in mid-song. Be Bread, Ms. Melford’s coolly intuitive cohort, girds every structure with a pliable integrity, making these pieces feel both supple and sturdy. The group has a sympathetic front line (and a pair of commanding soloists) in the trumpeter Cuong Vu and the clarinetist Ben Goldberg; its rhythm section consists of the
guitarist Brandon Ross and the bassist Stomu Takeishi, both playing acoustic instruments, and the drummer Matt Wilson, an endless fount of effervescence. Ms. Melford leads from within the stir, meting out her pianism in surges or shimmers, according to the music’s needs.
(Nate Shinen, New York Times)

Myra Melford - The Whole Tree Gone


Label: Palmetto Records
Release date: January 01, 2007

It would be difficult to conceive of a player who sounds less like anyone else and more like he’s speaking directly through his horn than Marty Ehrlich, states DOWNBEAT. Equally acclaimed for his composing and playing, Ehrlich is fluent on clarinet, saxophone and flutes. The Jazz Journalists Association honored him as Wind Player of the Year in 2001 and as Clarinetist of the Year in 2003. In 2004 Ehrlich was awarded a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in Composition.

Marty Ehrlich is one of the most celebrated artists of his generation, critically acclaimed as both composer and player. The Village Voice called Marty: “…one of the most formidable multi-instrumentalists since Eric Dolphy.” JazzTimes Magazine hailed his last release for Palmetto, News on the Rail, as one of the best albums of 2005. SPARK! showcases Marty on alto saxophone and clarinet.

Marty Ehrlich and Myra Melford have been performing and touring as a duo since 2000. Marty says: “Myra and I share a passion to use whatever musical forms we can, traditional, new, or in between, that work to bring out our most expressive music making.”

Myra Melfordhas appeared on more than 20 recordings, including nine as a leader, performed in more than 30 countries, and worked with some of the world’s most innovative musicians. Don Heckman describes Myra’s playing in The Los Angeles Times: “…a strikingly facile technique with a passionate, imaginative improvisational ability.”

This is Marty Ehrlich’s 3rd release for Palmetto Records. His previous releases are: News on the Rail and Line on Love. He is also featured on the Palmetto recordings by Andrew Hill (Dusk and A Beautiful Day), and Bobby Previte (Just Add Water, and Counterclockwise).

Myra Melford - SPARK!

Big Picture

Label: Cryptogramophone
Release date: January 01, 2007

The pianist Myra Melford, the bassist Mark Dresser and the drummer Matt Wilson joined forces as an experimental collective, Trio M. Though unassumingly named after a shared first initial — they might just as easily have gone with 3M, but apparently that was taken — the ensemble struck a high-minded and often sophisticated tone. “Big Picture” (Cryptogramophone), released last year, was a strong collaborative debut. It also felt ripe with potential.

So it’s fortunate that the three M’s, despite limited resources and busy schedules, were able to manage a brief cross-country tour. (It began last week in Los Angeles, and concludes on Saturday in Baltimore.) By Thursday night, when they made their New York stand in the mezzanine lounge of the Kitano New York hotel, their rapport felt noticeably deeper than on the record, and the music covered a broader dynamic range.

The opening tune of the first set, “For Bradford,” covered a lot of ground by itself, serving as a kind of mission statement. Its development was gradual at first, as Mr. Dresser and Ms. Melford plucked obliquely at the strings of their instruments. (For Ms. Melford, this involved reaching an arm into the chassis of the piano.) Mr. Wilson, using brushes against his cymbals, flirted with a tempo, but it was Ms. Melford who finally let it loose. The melody that sprang forth, singsong and slippery, evoked Ornette Coleman.

The clarity of that evocation — “For Bradford” is Mr. Dresser’s homage to the cornetist Bobby Bradford, who played with Mr. Coleman — set up a framework for the gig. Trio M is a band with a loving commitment to the jazz avant-garde, especially as it was expressed in the 1970s, a sort of frontier era. Later in the set the group played “Naïve Art,” a bluesy scramble that Mr. Wilson dedicated to the drummer Paul Motian; and “Secrets to Tell You,” which Ms. Melford imbued with a marriage of European harmony and Eastern modality. (She was summoning the vibe of the classic Keith Jarrett Quartet, in which Mr. Motian played.)

Yet the personalities of the musicians were hardly subsumed by their adopted lineage. Mr. Dresser, an authority on the subject of extended technique, often eschewed a linear bass part in favor of densely tangled tone clusters. This opened up a lot of usable space for Mr. Wilson, who has a particular gift for free-flowing, semi-abstract swing. Against this shifting foundation, Ms. Melford took a chameleonic approach, dividing her effort between boppish octave lines, meditative chords and an expressive graffiti scrawl.

If the group continues to work together, its interplay could become even more intuitive. That would be an accomplishment not only for these musicians but also for the traditions they pointedly acknowledge.

Published: February 2, 2008

Myra Melford - Big Picture

The Image of your Body

Label: Cryptogramophone - CG131
Distribution in France: Orkhêstra

Release Date : september 2006

In 2004, pianist Myra Melford released her last album “Where the two worlds touch” by her group The Tent. The duality of her previous record is explored in even greater detail on “The Image of Your Body”, featuring her new group, Be Bread. The music was composed after the artist had returned from India where she had spent some time studying. The album title is taken from a poem by mystic Sufi poet Rumi. The core of the group consists of Melford on piano and harmonium, bassist Stomu Takeishi and drummer Elliot Humberto Kavee, and features textural trumpeter Cuong Vu (Pat Metheny) and guitarist Brandon Ross (Lounge Lizzards, Cassandra Wilson…). “The Image of Your Body” is proof that one’s spiritual quest is inherently reflected in one’s music. It’s another superb release from Melford, whose evolution from a more aggressive free player to an equally unencumbered melodist is a path well worth following. It is also her first album available in Europe for a long time. (text includes quotes from John Kelman/All About Jazz)

Myra Melford - The Image of your Body

Alive in the House of Saints

Label: hatOLOGY 2-570
Distribution in France: Harmonia Mundi

Listening, eight years after it was created, to this primary chapter in the recorded legacy of (pianist) Myra Melford’s first trio evokes a rush of feelings. There are warm memories of in-person encounters with Melford, Lindsey Horner and Reggie Nicholson; and satisfaction regarding how the ideas Melford articulated here as both pianist and composer have metamorphosed into the triumphs of her subsequent music. What is absent is the uncertainty one often feels when contemplating the recent past, that feeling of needing more time to take the full measure of a musical statement. Melford has made it easy for us, through the clarity of both these now-historic performances and her subsequent efforts, to hear the present works as both glorious ends in themselves and the foundations of her ongoing creations.

Myra Melford - Alive in the House of Saints