Myra Melford photo by Daniel Sheehan
May 30 & 31, 7:30pm
Meany Studio Theater
Now spanning 10 years, the annual student-led jazz project known as the Improvised Music Project (IMPFest), produced by the University of Washington’s School of Music, shows no sign of slowing down. The festival brings together all-star faculty and students with world-renowned musicians. This year’s headliners are guitarist Bill Frisell, jazz pianist Myra Melford, and alto sax player Andrew D’Angelo. The festival runs for two evenings, May 30 and 31, at UW’s Meany Studio Theater.
Internationally renowned jazz veteran Bill Frisell needs no introduction. Both a returning performer at the IMPFest and a well-respected jazz guitarist, creator, collaborator, and pioneer, accolades precede him. Stereophile honors him by stating, “for over ten years Bill Frisell has quietly been the most brilliant and unique voice to come along in jazz guitar since Wes Montgomery…[and] he may also be one of the most promising composers of American music on the current scene.” Apart from his own undeniable talent, Frisell has been involved in masterful collaborations, working with such diverse and talented performers including Elvis Costello, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Marianne Faithful, Vernon Reid, Vinicius Cantuária, Bono, Suzanne Vega, Ronald Shannon Jackson, Gus Van Sant, The Frankfurt Ballet, and Rickie Lee Jones. His collaborations and musical influence continue.
Jazz pianist Myra Melford’s successful two-decades career combines an amalgam of influences. Initially inspired by the blues traditions she grew up with in Chicago, her music has since developed in new directions. Gathering ideas from such varied sources as the literary works of Rumi, Albert Camus, and Kōbō Abe, along with her deep interest in Aikido, Siddha Yoga, and traditional ideas derived from the Huichol people, she creates unique music. Berkeleyside calls her “a visionary bandleader with a singularly expansive sound embracing a global array of influences. While she’s known for her percussive attack and roiling keyboard technique, Melford is also a deeply soulful player with a passion for Afro-Caribbean grooves, the blues and classical Hindustani music.” Not only does she take these dynamic and divergent influences and interpret them for the piano, but she uses the harmonium and the electric keyboard to create music that can be both blissful and dramatic. Melford currently works with two ensembles: the quintet Snowy Egret and the collective known as Trio M. Her most recent awards include the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation’s Performing Artist Award and being named a Guggenheim Fellow.
Raised in Seattle, saxophonist/composer Andrew D’Angelo makes waves wherever he finds himself. As a young adult he moved to New York and then Boston, becoming part of such progressive jazz ensembles as Human Feel, Either/Orchestra, and Tyft. Human Feel was willing to break musical boundaries, and, as D’Angelo tells it, “would prove to be one of the central incubators of new jazz for the 1990s.” Over the past 20 years, he’s collaborated with Erik Friedlander, Bobby Previte, Jamie Saft, Cuong Vu, and Matt Wilson, among others. D’Angelo says that his music takes influence from jazz traditions as well as leaning heavily on electro-acoustic music and modern classical music. JazzTimes magazine praises D’Angelo as “an expressionist [who] wields a visceral, heart-on-sleeve tone.” He’s a tenacious, turbulent musician who’s not afraid to be musically radical.