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Public Program

Myra Melford Fire and Water Quintet

Myra Melford is the epitome of an artist who balances composition with improvisation and blends them into a seamless flow of creative impulses and diverse influences. She exemplifies the boundary-pushing and vital form that contemporary jazz continues to be.

A recipient of many awards and accolades (Fulbright Scholarship, Guggenheim Fellowship, Alpert Award in the Arts, numerous placements in the Downbeat polls), the intensely dynamic pianist consistently surrounds herself in ensembles of equals - improviser/composers who are as virtuosic and creatively boundless as she is. Her Fire & Water Quintet is no exception. It features Melford in the company of some of contemporary jazz’s most vibrant creators and instrumentalists: Mary Halvorson (guitar), Ingrid Laubrock (saxophones), Lesley Mok (drums, percussion), and Tomeka Reid (cello). The quintet is named after a set of drawings by the renowned artist Cy Twombly. Their debut album is a suite of pieces representing the first installment of Melford’s extensive multi-part tribute to the artist.

“I read that when Twombly was a young artist, one of the things he did to train himself was to turn out all the lights at night and draw in the dark,” she recalls. “He was interested in what it felt like to make the line more than what it looked like, and that seemed like an apt metaphor for how I play the piano. For me, it’s all about the gesture and the energy. Of course, there’s a sound to it, but it’s almost as if the sound is the information I get after the impulse to make a gesture.” - Myra Melford

This program is co-presented with Nameless Sound.

Two performances: 5:30PM and 7:30PM. Seating is limited and will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

Nameless Sound’s presentation of Myra Melford’s Fire & Water Quintet is supported through a Chamber Music America Presenter Consortium for Jazz grant in collaboration with Epistrophy Arts and The New Quorum.

A component of the Doris Duke Jazz Ensembles Project, Presenter Consortium for Jazz is funded by the Doris Duke Foundation.

Attending the program:

This program takes place in the Cy Twombly Gallery, located at 1501 Branard St. Additional information regarding accessibility and parking can be found here.

As always, Menil programs are free and open to all.