Born: April 19, 1966 Primary Instrument: Piano
Minneapolis-based pianist and composer, Mary Louise Knutson, has been called one of the most exciting and innovative artists to happen to jazz piano in quite some time. Her warm, inviting tone, broad range of emotional expression, and distinctive compositions have brought her much recognition on the national music scene.
Knutson's long-awaited new jazz trio CD, In the Bubble, ranked in JazzWeek's Top 10 and remained on the chart for 19 weeks straight. Six standards and four originals - which range from a swinging Oscar Peterson Trio-style It Could Happen to You” to a smooth jazz version of “You Don’t Know What Love Is” to a gospel style You Are My Sunshine - complete this highly accessible mainstream-to-modern collection. The Mary Louise Knutson Trio was recently featured on the Twin Cities' KARE 11 Today Show. Watch the video here: http://www.kare11.com/today/article/954714/449/Mary-Louise-Knutsons-In-the-Bubble-CD.
Fresh off tour with trumpeter Doc Severinsen and his big band, Knutson has also toured the U.S. with her own group, the Mary Louise Knutson Trio, and Italy with vocalist Debbie Duncan. Knutson has performed with such jazz greats as Dizzy Gillespie, Bobby McFerrin, Dianne Reeves, Kevin Mahogany, Nicholas Payton, Bobby Shew, Richie Cole, Greg Abate, Von Freeman, Slide Hampton, Mike Stern, Peter Erskine, Billy Hart, Ed Shaughnessy, and Richard Davis. As a show player, she has performed with Reba McEntire, Jordin Sparks, Michael Bolton , Trisha Yearwood, Sam Moore, Donny Osmond, Smoky Robinson, the Osmond Brothers, and more.
In 2006 Knutson was a Minnesota Music Awards nominee for both Jazz Artist of the Year and Pianist of the Year, and in 2005, she was a Finalist in the Kennedy Center’s Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Pianist Competition. In 2004, Knutson was the recipient of Lawrence University's distinguished Nathan M. Pusey Alumni Achievement Award for significant contributions and achievements in a career field, and in 2001, Knutson’s debut jazz trio CD, Call Me When You Get There, charted in JazzWeek’s Top 50 for eight consecutive weeks and earned Knutson the award for Top New Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year from KWJL Radio in California.
An acclaimed composer, Knutson has won numerous awards, including two from Billboard magazine for her compositions How Will I Know? and Meridian. How Will I Know? was also recorded by Prince's horn section, the Hornheads, for their 5 Heads Are Better Than 1 release on Bone 2 B Wild Music.
Formerly an instructor in jazz piano and improvisation at Carleton College, Knutson teaches privately and conducts a variety of master classes, including Intro to Composition, Freedom From the Written Page: Beginning Improv for Pianists, Jazz Piano in the Big Band: Voicings, Rhythms, and Scales, The Press Kit, and History of Jazz Overview: A Timeline of Styles & Recordings. Her newest master class, Making Sense of Jazz, for non-musicians and/or budding enthusiasts, explores improvisation and typical song forms, as well as explains how jazz musicians communicate on stage.
Knutson can be heard regularly with her group, the Mary Louise Knutson Trio, or as a soloist, at clubs, festivals, and concert halls here and abroad; with area vocalists Connie Evingson and Debbie Duncan; and with a variety of instrumental groups including the JazzMN Orchestra and the Minnesota Orchestra. For more info, please visit: www.MaryLouiseKnutson.com
Awards:Awards for In the Bubble CD: Top 10 on the national JazzWeek chart; 19 weeks straight on the national JazzWeek chart; Favorite CDs of 2011 (Andrea Canter, JazzPolice.com); Twin Cities Critics Tally 2011: Top 10 Local Albums (Pamela Espeland, Star Tribune); Top 10 Twin Cities Jazz CDs of 2011 (Pamela Espeland, bebopified.com); Minnesota's Best 2011 Releases (Andrea Swensson, Twin Cities' City Pages); Top CDs of 2011 (Dave May, Desert Island Jazz, WHFC 91.1 FM - Bel Air, MD); Top CDs of 2011 (Chris Cooke, Jazz in the Afternoon, KIOS 91.5 FM - Omaha Public Radio); 2006 Jazz Artist of the Year, Minnesota Music Award Nomination; 2006 Pianist of the Year, Minnesota Music Award Nomination; 2005 Top 5 Finalist, Kennedy Center’s Mary Lou Williams 'Women in Jazz' Pianist Competition; 2004 Lawrence University's Nathan M. Pusey Alumni Achievement Award (for significant contributions and achievements in a career field); 2001 Top New Jazz Instrumentalist, KWJL Radio, California
Swinging and wonderful...In the Bubble is my pleasant surprise of the day. I love it. - Judy Carmichael - Radio host, Judy Carmichael's Jazz Inspired, NYC
Polished, accomplished and always in the pocket...tasty throughout, this is a goodie not to be missed. - Chris Spector, Midwest Record Review
...a masterful combination of original works and new arrangements...Knutson's compositions are marked by exquisite melodies, emotive harmonies, shifting rhythms and an elegant touch that recalls McPartland, Arriale, and Jarrett. - Andrea Canter, JazzINK.com
In the Bubble
Personnel: Mary Louise Knutson: piano; Gordy Johnson: bass; Phil Hey: drums; Greg Schutte: drums; Craig Hara: drums As a Leader
Call Me When You Get There
Personnel: Mary Louise Knutson: piano; Gordy Johnson: bass; Phil Hey: drums; Marc Rio: drums; Craig Hara: drums; Marc Anderson: percussion
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Willing to teach:
Private instruction for all levels of Jazz Piano, Composition, Arranging, Theory. Evenings. South Minneapolis studio. Knutson is a former instructor in jazz piano and improvisation at Carleton College. She also conducts a variety of masterclasses, including Jazz Voicings and Scales: Freedom from the Written Page, which assists students in building jazz chords for solo and ensemble playing and outlines a starting point for improvisation. Her newest masterclass, Making Sense of Jazz, for non-musicians and/or budding enthusiasts, explores how jazz musicians communicate on stage, the typical structure of songs, and the use of improvisation.