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Myra Melford

Biography

An exploratory, virtuosic, rhythmic, and lyrical composer and improviser, pianist Myra Melford emerged in the first ’90s among the most highly acclaimed jazz pianists of your day, and she proved worth the accolades as her diverse body of function — with an frequently strong spiritual concentrate — continued in to the 21st hundred years. Melford’s work shown her main musical mentors/affects: on piano, Don Pullen, whose percussive mannerisms she successively modified; and, like a composer, Henry Threadgill, with whom she analyzed within the middle-’80s. In early stages, Melford also professed an affinity for the blues designs she noticed and analyzed like a youngsters in Chicago (she was raised in close by Evanston, Illinois), which she integrated into her avant-garde-tinged musical sensibility. Like a youngsters, Melford analyzed boogie-woogie piano with Erwin Helfer, and she later on attended university at Evergreen Condition in Olympia, Washington, where she analyzed with pianist Artwork Lande and created a pastime in jazz. She also went to the Cornish Institute in Seattle. In 1984 she relocated to NEW YORK, where she’d play in the rings of Threadgill, violinist Leroy Jenkins, and Butch Morris, amongst others. She also researched privately with Pullen. Within the middle- to past due ’80s she performed and documented within a duo using the flutist Marion Brandis. She shaped a trio with bassist Lindsey Horner and drummer Reggie Nicholson, with which she documented a set of albums — Leap (1990) and today & Today (1991) — for the Foe label, which helped create her reputation. Extra recognition arrived using the discharge from the trio’s live outing Alive inside your home of Saints in the Swiss HatHut label in 1993. Because the ’90s advanced, Melford begun to broaden the textures and timbres open to her being a composer by shifting toward bigger groupings with different instrumentation, initial adding trumpeter Dave Douglas and reedman Marty Ehrlich to her trio lineup, using the resultant quintet debuting because the Myra Melford Expanded Ensemble in the 1995 Hatology discharge Even the Seems Shine, and forming a fresh five-piece, exactly the same River, Twice, offering Douglas, cellist Erik Friedlander, reedman Chris Rate, and drummer Michael Sarin, all significant contributors towards the decade’s NY downtown jazz picture (with Friedlander, Rate, and Sarin all users of Douglas ensembles). The group’s eponymous debut showed up on Gramavision in 1996, accompanied by the 1999 Arabesque documenting Above Blue. In the mean time, Melford made an appearance as an improvisational collaborator on a set of albums: the 1996 Hatology launch Eleven Ghosts, offering duets performed from the pianist with Dutch drummer Han Bennink; and Equivalent Curiosity, a 1999 Omnitone launch from the trio of the same name, offering Melford alongside two music artists with origins in Chicago’s AACM, violinist Jenkins and multi-reedist Joseph Jarman (Melford experienced added to the Jarman/Jenkins recording From the Mist in 1997). The second option set noticed Melford adding to the trio’s expansive sound palette on harmonium in addition to piano. Because the 2000s dawned, Melford came back to some trio file format with Crush, a music group offering her piano and harmonium backed by the drums of Kenny Wollesen and electrical bass of Stomu Takeishi, the second option an associate of Henry Threadgill’s Take action along with a contributor to numerous Melford tasks over time to arrive. Arabesque released the Crush record Dance Beyond the colour in 2000. The next season, the label released Yet Can Planting season, which discovered her solely on piano within a duet placing with her previous Extended Outfit bandmate Marty Ehrlich on alto saxophone, clarinet, and bass clarinet — Melford would go back to the duo format with Ehrlich in the Palmetto discharge Spark! in 2007. These Equal Curiosity and Crush albums uncovered Melford’s burgeoning skill in the harmonium (a kind of portable pump body organ), and in 2000 and 2001 her curiosity about the device, and in North Indian traditional, devotional, and folk music, would consider her to Calcutta on the Fulbright scholarship or grant, which financed her expenditures during nine a few months of research with harmonium virtuoso Pandit Sohanlal Sharma (who passed on in-may 2012). Ahead of her departure, Melford also portrayed a wish to explore qawwali music with Sufi music artists during her sojourn. Upon time for the Expresses, Melford resided at an upstate NY ashram, and began documenting and liberating music educated by her moves and research, you start with the 2004 Arabesque launch Where in fact the Two Worlds Contact by Myra Melford’s the Tent, influenced from the poetry of 13th hundred years Sufi mystic Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi and offering Melford on piano and harmonium alongside her Crush bandmates bassist Takeishi and drummer Wollesen, previous Same River, Double member Rate on tenor saxophone and clarinet, and Cuong Vu on trumpet. Sufi poet Rumi also influenced the music of Melford’s following recording, The Picture of YOUR SYSTEM (whose name was produced from a Rumi poem), the debut discharge by her End up being Bread ensemble documented in Dec of 2003, eight a few months after the periods for Where in fact the Two Worlds Contact occurred. Melford produced Be Loaf of bread expressly to try out music predicated on her research in India, as well as the group’s top documenting highlighted Melford on piano and harmonium alongside bassist Takeishi, trumpeter Vu, guitarist Brandon Ross, and drummer Elliot Humberto Kavee. The Picture of THE BODY had not been released until 2006 by Cryptogramophone, and in the liner records Melford explained the music’s “levels of simultaneous activity, not really unlike existence in modern-day India: a continual bombardment from the senses along with a mingling from the peace from the ancient using the hustle of today’s.” Between your documenting and launch of The Picture of THE BODY, Melford departed the East Coastline for California in 2004, receiving a posture as Associate Teacher, Improvisation and Jazz, within the Division of Music at University or college of California, Berkeley. Her fresh part in academia didn’t indication a retreat from functionality and documenting, nevertheless, as she embarked on a bunch of new tasks over the following a decade, including a go back to the piano/bass/drums trio format — but this time around within a collaborative instead of leadership function — with bassist Tag Dresser and drummer Matt Wilson in Trio M (i.e., Myra, Tag, Matt), which released THE PICTURE AS A WHOLE on Cryptogramophone in 2007 as well as the Guest Home on Enja/Yellowbird in 2012. And Chamber Music America commissioned her structure THE COMPLETE Tree Gone, highlighted in the 2010 Firehouse 12 record of the same name by End up being Bread, this time around within a sextet lineup of Melford, Takeishi, Vu, Ross, Wilson, and clarinetist Ben Goldberg. Melford in addition has continued to execute and record in duo configurations, with violinist/violist Tanya Kalmanovitch on Center Hill (Perspicacity, 2007) and in a live documenting at Berkeley’s Maybeck Recital Hall with fellow pianist Satoko Fuji on Beneath the Drinking water (Libra Information, 2009); in another duo task, ::Dialogue::, she collaborated with clarinetist Goldberg. Even though these along with other tasks have included single piano features for Melford, her 1st entirely single piano recording, Life Bears Me IN THIS MANNER, was released from the Firehouse 12 label in 2013; the recording included 11 Melford compositions influenced by drawings (reproduced within the Compact disc booklet) by Sacramento designer and family members friend Don Reich, who passed on this year 2010. In 2012 Melford produced a fresh quintet, Snowy Egret, offering bassist Takeishi, guitarist Liberty Ellman, trumpeter Ron Mls, and drummer Tyshawn Sorey, to execute her compositions motivated by Uruguayan writer, historian, and journalist Eduardo Galeano’s Memoria del Fuego (Storage of Fireplace) trilogy on the Jazz Gallery in NEW YORK. The following calendar year she received a Guggenheim Fellowship along with a Doris Duke Musician Award, the last mentioned supporting her coding activities on the Yerba Buena Middle for the Arts in SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA. On the Yerba Buena Middle in November 2013, Melford and Snowy Egret performed the group’s Galeano-inspired music in her media project Vocabulary of Dreams, which also included dance, video, and spoken term. The quintet’s eponymous debut recording premiered by Enja/Yellowbird in March of 2015.

Quick Facts


Full Name Myra Melford
Profession Jazz Pianist
Education The Evergreen State College
Nationality American
Awards Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Arts, US & Canada
Music Songs Be Bread, The Maple Leaf Rag, Luck Shifts, Night of Sorrow, Even The Sounds Shine, The Strawberry, Equal Grace, Yellow Are Crowds of Flowers, I, That The Peace, The Image of Your Body, Be Melting Snow, I See a Horizon, Park Mechanics, The Virgin of Guadalupe, If You've Not Been Fed, Times of Sleep and Fate, Fear Slips Behind, Ching Ching / For Love of Fruit, Which Way Is That?, And Now Some Blues, Live Jump, The Kitchen, Some Kind of Blues, First Protest, Everything Here Is Possible, An Unexpected Visitor, Little Pockets / Everybody Pays Taxes, Made It Out, The Guest House, Frank Goes To, Moonless Night, For Leroy
Albums Life Carries Me This Way, The Same River, Twice, Snowy Egret, Alive in the House of Saints (Live), Eleven Ghosts, Big Air, The Image of Your Body, Yet Can Spring, Above Blue, For We Have Heard, Out of the Mist, The Vermillion, Where the Two Worlds Touch, Hex, Quiet Land, Continuation, Everything Here Is Possible, Heart Mountain, The Guest House, Dialogue, Under the Water


  • Facts
  • Filmography
  • Awards
  • Salaries
  • Quotes
  • Trademarks
  • Pictures

#Fact
1 Following her death, she was interred at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles, California, in the Cathedral Mausoleum.
2 Unlike most other film dancers of her day, Powell did not use a choreographer but devised all her own numbers. Consequently, although she danced with some of the best dancers of her era, his most memorable performances were in solos.
3 After a public appearances was at the AFI Tribute to her film co-star Fred Astaire, she made her final public appearance in October 1981 for the National Film Society in which the Ellie Award was established for performances in filmed musicals.
4 Became the first specialty tapper to ever appear at Carnegie Hall.
5 Having been spotted playfully performing acrobatics on the beach while on vacation at Atlantic City, her first professional dancing job was at age 12 at the Ambassador Hotel in a Gus Edwards summer vaudeville revue. She was reportedly paid a total of $21 for performing three times a week.
6 Inducted into the International Tap Dance Hall of Fame in 2002 (inaugural class).
7 Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume One, 1981-1985, pages 650-652. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1998.
8 She was posthumously awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1541 Vine Street in Hollywood, California on February 15, 1984.
9 Due to her becoming a minister in the Unity church, her ashes are placed in a bronze replica of the bible. She was interred at Hollywood Forever Cemetery just a few steps down the hall from Rudolph Valentino, Peter Finch and several other great legends of film.
10 Was acclaimed "The World's Greatest Feminine Tap and Rhythm Dancer" by the Dance Masters of America in the mid-1930s.
11 Took dancing classes as a child to overcome extreme shyness and social awkwardness.
12 Her parents separated when she was 11 months and divorced when she was two. Her mother told Eleanor as a child that her father had died to protect them from outside scandal, but Eleanor's father reintroduced himself to Eleanor in 1935 during the Boston run of "At Home Abroad".
13 With a preference toward ballet and acrobatics (notably her splits), she did not initially tap in her early career. In fact, she disliked the style which she considered lacking in grace. It was only when she lost a number of musical roles in New York because she could not tap that she realized the need to learn. Due to her aerial style, she was taught to tap by being forced to wear army surplus ammunition belts with sandbags attached to ground herself. She was taught by Jack Donohue who at time gave private lessons in tap, reportedly paying him $35 for a course of 10 lessons.
14 One of her earliest New York jobs was working with the legendary Bill Robinson in private shows (c. 1928) given at parties held in the palatial homes of New York's high society. This was by working with Robinson that Powell first discovered tap dancing.
15 In 1954, following a period of retirement, she was asked to host The Faith of Our Children (1953), a non-denominational religious program which featured appearances from film and sports stars. The show lasted three seasons and Eleanor received a regional Emmy Award for children's programming.
16 Mother of the actor Peter Ford.


Soundtrack

Soundtrack

TitleYearStatusCharacter
That's Entertainment! III 1994 Documentary performer: "Follow in My Footsteps" 1937, "Your Broadway and My Broadway" 1937, "Broadway Rhythm" 1935, "Fascinating Rhythm" 1924, "Jukebox Dance" 1940 - uncredited
That's Dancing! 1985 Documentary performer: "Broadway Rhythm", "Hola E Pae"
AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Fred Astaire 1981 TV Movie documentary performer: "Begin the Beguine"
That's Entertainment, Part II 1976 Documentary performer: "Fascinating Rhythm" 1924, "Swingin' the Jinx Away" 1936 - uncredited
That's Entertainment! 1974 performer: "Rosalie" 1937, "Begin the Beguine" 1935 - uncredited
The Great Morgan 1946 performer: "Got a Pair of New Shoes"
I Dood It 1943 "Rock-a-Bye Baby" 1886, uncredited / performer: "Star Eyes" 1943, "So Long Sarah Jane" 1943, "Swingin' the Jinx Away" 1936, "Hola E Pae" uncredited, "Anchors Aweigh" 1906 uncredited
Ship Ahoy 1942 "The Last Call for Love" 1942 / music: "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You" 1932 - uncredited / performer: "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You" 1932 uncredited, "Hawaiian War Chant Ta-Hu-Wa-Ha-Hai" 1936 uncredited, "I'll Take Tallulah" 1942, "How About You?" 1941, "Cape Dance" 1942 uncredited, "Tampico" 1942 uncredited, "Moonlight Bay" 1912 uncredited
Lady Be Good 1941 performer: "Oh ! Lady Be Good" 1924, "Fascinating Rhythm" 1924 - uncredited
Broadway Melody of 1940 1940 performer: "All Ashore" 1939, "Between You and Me" 1939, "Jukebox Dance" 1939, "I Concentrate on You" 1939, "Begin the Beguine" 1935, "I've Got My Eye on You" 1939 - uncredited
Honolulu 1939 performer: "Honolulu" 1939, "Old Folks at Home" 1851 uncredited, "Listen to the Mockingbird" 1855 uncredited, "Old Black Joe" 1861 uncredited, "The Darktown Strutters' Ball" 1917 uncredited, "Hola E Pae" uncredited, "Hawaiian Medley"
Rosalie 1937 "Who Knows?" 1937, "The Washington Post" 1889, "The Stars and Stripes Forever" 1896, "El Capitan" 1896, "Semper Fidelis" 1888, uncredited / performer: "Rosalie" 1937, "Who Knows?" 1937, "I've a Strange New Rhythm in My Heart" 1937, "The Stars and Stripes Forever" 1896 - uncredited
Broadway Melody of 1938 1937 performer: "Yours and Mine" 1937, "Follow in My Footsteps" 1937, "I'm Feelin' Like a Million" 1937, "Your Broadway and My Broadway" 1937, "Broadway Rhythm" 1935, "Got a Pair of New Shoes" 1937 - uncredited
Born to Dance 1936 "Easy to Love" 1936, uncredited / performer: "Rap, Tap on Wood" 1936 uncredited, "Hey, Babe, Hey" 1936, "Love Me, Love My Pekinese" 1936 uncredited, "Easy to Love" 1936 uncredited, "Swingin' the Jinx Away" 1936 uncredited
Broadway Melody of 1936 1935 performer: "Broadway Rhythm" 1935, "You Are My Lucky Star" 1935, "Sing Before Breakfast" 1935 - uncredited
George White's 1935 Scandals 1935 performer: "It's an Old Southern Custom" 1935 - uncredited

Actress

Actress

TitleYearStatusCharacter
The Faith of Our Children 1953 TV Series
Duchess of Idaho 1950 Eleanor Powell
Sensations of 1945 1944 Virginia 'Ginny' Walker
Thousands Cheer 1943 Eleanor Powell
I Dood It 1943 Constance Shaw
Ship Ahoy 1942 Tallulah Winters
Lady Be Good 1941 Marilyn Marsh
Broadway Melody of 1940 1940 Clare Bennett
Honolulu 1939 Dorothy March
Rosalie 1937 Rosalie
Broadway Melody of 1938 1937 Sally Lee
Born to Dance 1936 Nora Paige
Broadway Melody of 1936 1935 Irene Foster
George White's 1935 Scandals 1935 Marilyn
Queen High 1930 Party Guest / Dancer (uncredited)

Miscellaneous

Miscellaneous

TitleYearStatusCharacter
I Dood It 1943 choreographer - Lasso dance sequence, uncredited

Self

Self

TitleYearStatusCharacter
AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Fred Astaire 1981 TV Movie documentary Herself
The Lion Roars Again 1975 Documentary short Herself (uncredited)
The Hollywood Palace 1964 TV Series Herself - Dancer
The Bell Telephone Hour 1963 TV Series Herself - Dancer / Hostess
The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson 1963 TV Series Herself - Guest
The 20th Annual Golden Globes Awards 1963 TV Special Herself - Presenter: Best Motion Picture Musical / Comedy
Perry Como's Kraft Music Hall 1962-1963 TV Series Herself - Guest / Herself - Guest Star
The Ed Sullivan Show 1961 TV Series Herself
Here's Hollywood 1961 TV Series Herself
Person to Person 1957 TV Series documentary Herself
Inside Beverly Hills 1956 TV Movie Herself
The Faith of Our Children 1955 TV Series Herself
The 27th Annual Academy Awards 1955 TV Special Herself - Audience Member
This Is Your Life 1955 TV Series Eleanor Powell
Sheilah Graham in Hollywood 1955 TV Series Herself
Have Faith in Our Children 1955 Short Herself
All Star Revue 1952 TV Series Herself
Screen Snapshots: Hollywood Holiday 1948 Documentary short Herself
Screen Snapshots: Famous Hollywood Mothers 1947 Documentary short Herself
Screen Snapshots Series 18, No. 8 1939 Documentary short Herself
The Candid Camera Story (Very Candid) of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures 1937 Convention 1937 Documentary short Herself (uncredited)
Screen Snapshots Series 15, No. 12 1936 Short Herself

Archive Footage

Archive Footage

TitleYearStatusCharacter
Ziegfeld Girl Intro 2004 Video documentary short Clare Bennett
Begin the Beguine 2003 Video documentary short Herself
Great Performances 2003 TV Series Herself
Omnibus 2001 TV Series documentary Herself
American Masters 1997 TV Series documentary Herself
That's Entertainment! III 1994 Documentary Performer in Clips from 'Broadway Melody of 1938' / 'Lady Be Good' (uncredited)
AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to James Stewart 1980 TV Special documentary Actress 'Born to Dance' (uncredited)
That's Entertainment, Part II 1976 Documentary Clips from 'Born to Dance' & 'Lady Be Good'
It's Showtime 1976 Documentary Herself (uncredited)
Brother Can You Spare a Dime 1975 Documentary Herself
That's Entertainment! 1974 clips from "Broadway Melody of 1940" / "Rosalie"
The Judy Garland Show 1964 TV Series Herself
Screen Snapshots: Hollywood Goes a Fishin' 1956 Short Eleanor Powell
The Great Morgan 1946 Film Character
The Miracle of Sound 1940 Documentary short Herself (uncredited)
Hollywood: Style Center of the World 1940 Documentary short Herself

Won awards

Won awards

YearAwardCeremonyNominationMovieAward shared with
1984 Star on the Walk of Fame Walk of Fame Motion Picture Awarded posthumously on 15 February 1984 at 1541 Vine Street.

TitleSalary
Broadway Melody of 1936 (1935) $1,250 per week

#Quote
1 Once I was identified as a tap dancer that was it - because nobody had ever seen that kind of thing before. When I hit it, the off-beat was just coming in. This was the big new thing, and I used to practice all the time between shows.
2 Commenting on her marriage to Glenn Ford: I filed on the grounds of mental cruelty and that's exactly what he gave me.
3 Whenever you hear the beat of my feet, it is really the beat of my heart saying, "Thank You and God Bless You!".
4 On her later years as an ordained minister: I was married to Glenn Ford. But now I feel as though I'm married to God, and in the nicest, purest sense.
5 I'd rather dance than eat.
6 A tap dancer is really a frustrated drummer.


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