Redwood Jazz Alliance

Myra Melford & Be Bread
Friday, January 29, 8 p.m.| Fulkerson Recital Hall, HSU

“Melford can be rhythmic, romantic, stoic, wry, and lusty but most of all daring – all in one tune.” 
—Stuart Nicholson, The London Observer

“[Be Bread's sound is] an enticing fusion of free elements, tonalities and meters borrowed from other cultures, and post-jazz musings.”
—Josef Woodard, Jazz Times

(For music and links, scroll to the bottom of this page)

Myra Melford - Gannushkin
(Photo courtesy of Peter Gannushkin / DOWNTOWNMUSIC.NET)
Be Bread - Sheehan
(Photo courtesy of Daniel Sheehan)

Fearlessly adventurous in her composing and playing, Myra Melford decided on a musical career relatively late. Having studied classical piano into her teens, she had no real exposure to jazz till her student days at Evergreen College, where she heard a concert by the AACM (the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, whose co-founder, Muhal Richard Abrams, was named an NEA Jazz Master for 2010). The AACM’s fierce brand of improvisation rekindled Melford’s early love of the piano, and over the next decade she developed a signature style that turned her into one of the pivotal figures of jazz and modern creative music in the 90s.

At the keyboard, Melford recasts the blues and boogie-woogie of her native Chicago, folds in elements of the music of Eastern Europe and India, and blends them with the rangy, percussive avant-garde approach she cultivated in studies with piano master Don Pullen and avant composer Henry Threadgill. Her personal musical vocabulary is further enriched by a lush lyricism and organized by an architectural sense of composition derived from her classical training.

Melford’s Center Arts set with Humboldt native Jenny Scheinman in December was just the latest in a long series of collaborations with genre-bending musicians at the most interesting margins of jazz.  In addition to longstanding associations with such figures as Threadgill, trumpeter Dave Douglas, and reedist Marty Ehrlich (who played with Melford and “Trio M” in an electrifying evening at Fulkerson in 2007), she has also recorded notable projects with drummer Han Bennink, AACM veterans Joseph Jarman & Leroy Jenkins, Canadian violinist Tanya Kalmanovich, and Japanese pianist Satoko Fujii.  Last year saw Melford working with a brilliant young band featuring next-gen stars Matana Roberts, Mary Halvorson, and Harris Eisenstadt, as well playing a key role in percussionist Alex Cline’s chamber-jazz Continuation project, one of the best-regarded discs of 2009.

In 2000, Melford traveled as a Fulbright scholar to Calcutta, where she studied the harmonium, a small hand-pump organ used in Indian and Pakistani classical and devotional music, adapting it as a solo instrument.  Be Bread, which the New York Times calls a "powerfully elastic ensemble," is an electro-acoustic band Melford assembled to showcase the music that emerged from her Indian sojourn.  It’s a variable-sized ensemble built around a core unit of trumpeter Cuong Vu and/or guitarist Brandon Ross along with bassist Stomu Takeishi, andin the larger version that will appear hereclarinetist Ben Goldberg (who has previously played at the RJA as a member of Plays Monk and Go Home) and superstar drummer Matt Wilson (all-around good guy and member of the improvising cooperative “Trio M”).

The group’s repertoire includes compositions from its 2006 debut The Image of Your Body (Cryptogramophone), but this concert will focus heavily on new works commissioned by Chamber Music America’s New Works Presentation program and featured on a new album to be released January 19th, The Whole Tree Gone (Firehouse 12). 

(Adapted from

Tickets ($15 General Admission, $10 Students & Seniors) are available here at our website, or at Missing Link Records, People's Records and The Works.

Myra Melford and members of Be Bread will also present a FREE public workshop Saturday, January 30th from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. in HSU's Gist Hall Theater. People of all levels of experience are welcome.

News IconMore on Myra Melford and Be Bread:


  • Download "Yellow Are the Crowds of Flowers, II" from the 2006 album The Image of Your Body at
  • Stream "Hideout" from The Whole Tree Gone at Freight & Salvage
  • Listen to an extensive interview on Jason Crane's The Jazz Session
  • Hear Myra Melford and Be Bread featured on The California Report, 23 January 2010
  • Use the player to the left to listen to a stream of music by Myra Melford and Be Bread. Alternatively, you may open a player in a new window by clicking the "Launch Player" button below:

Meet the ComposerThis event is funded in part by Meet the Composer's MetLife Creative Connections program.

Additional support for this show comes from Arcata Arts, The Arcata Eye, Coast Central Credit Union, KHSU & KHSR-FM, Lady Anne Victorian Inn, Libation Wine Shop & Wine Bar, Los Bagels, Mosgo's Coffee, Martin Turkis OD, and Zwerdling Dibble LLP.

HSU SealSaturday morning's master class is made possible through the generosity of HSU's Office of the President, Provost Robert Snyder, College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Interim Dean Kenneth Ayoob, and the Department of Music.

If you or your business would like to consider sponsoring a Redwood Jazz Alliance event and/or advertising in our concert programs, please e-mail us or visit our Underwriting & Donations page.

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