The Advantages of California: Myra Melford

One of the many musical innovators who have relocated to California to take up teaching posts, pianist Myra Melford assures National Sawdust Log’s Steve Smith that after working for 20 years in New York, she’s still in a nourishing and supportive environment on the West Coast. A professor at the University of California, Berkeley since 2004, the pianist admits that not only has the move been beneficial to her financially, but it has allowed her to, for instance, in residency at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, involve youth in improvisation. Participating in many musical groups as well, Melford’s Snowy Egret quintet for example has recorded pieces she composed based on visual art by, among others, Cy Twombly and William Kentridge. Also, long before the #MeToo hash tag, she has been a part of  with two international ensembles that still play together frequently: MZM with kotoist Miya Masaoka and harpist Zeena Parkins, and the Tiger Trio with local flutist Nicolle Mitchell and French double bassist Joëlle Léandre. With the number of advanced improvisers now teaching at various California institutions, she adds that young players can now receive similar opportunities and/or education to what they might have gotten in New York 20 years ago.