Hot, saxophone led, organ driven, bluesy funk/jazz.
In the 1970s and 1980s, it was very unusual for a woman to play saxophone. Then Myanna came along and made headlines! Now, almost three decades later Myanna is still making news with the release of her latest CD. Titled, One Never Knows, Do One? this disc is a solid jazz release . . . sure to garner critical attention.
Illinois Jacquet, Sonny Rollins, Jimi Hendrix, and B.B, King were saxophonist Myanna Pontoppidan’s core musical influences, beginning in her late teen years. Myanna grew up in Weston, Massachusetts and after graduation went on to Berklee College of Music in Boston where she studied with saxophonist Joe Viola. Her career soared early on; she sat in with Grover Washington, Jr., performed with Gray Sargent, Martha Reeves, Ronnie Specter, and the Platters, among others.
After a stint at University of Massachusetts in Amherst (where she studied with Max Roach), Myanna sprinted off with the respected R&B Northampton-based band, “Lilith.” The band relocated to Georgia for a while - near Atlanta, then moved to Boston. Myanna left that group in the late ‘70s and joined the Bill Bellamy Project - an original jazz/R&B band. In 1984, she, saxophonist Cercie Miller and singer Didi Stewart put Girls' Night Out together as a lark - playing ‘60s girl group songs. The band ended up staying together due to high demand - and added more and more originals, until it morphed into an original rock band that also played some oldies.
Chris Hamel of the Springfield Morning Union described the band thus: “member for member and in total, one of the best rock acts that New England has ever produced.” “Girls’ Night Out” was chosen as one of five finalists in Musician Magazine’s 1986 national “Best Unsigned Band in America” contest.
Around the time that Girls Night Out split up, Myanna not only joined another highly successful band called The Love Dogs, but she formed her own band.
“There's nothing quite so satisfying as playing one's original music with a bunch of fine musicians,” says Myanna.
From the moment she and her band first stepped onto the musical stage, she and the band garnered widespread attention. She released her first CD, Myanna, and in 1992 she won the prestigious Boston Music Award for “Outstanding Local Jazz Act.” She and the band were nominated again in 1994. Then the Myanna band went on to win the coveted Boston Phoenix/WFNX Best Music Poll as the “Best Local Jazz Act” in both 1994 and 1996.
Along the way, Myanna set out to create an outlet for her growing wealth of original material. The pop-jazz style of her first CD, Myanna, evolved into a funky, danceable sound on her second, highly acclaimed release, After Hours, on the Bridge City label.
Critics raved about both of Myanna’s first two releases. Jon Garelick of the Boston Phoenix wrote, “There’s a rhythmic acuity to her playing and a real sense of drama in her arrangements and songwriting.” The Boston Globe’s Steve Morse said, “She play(s) . . . with passion and clarity” while according to John Laughter, writing in the Saxophone Journal, [Myanna is] a “multi-talented individual” who “is gifted with imagination and the ability to express her ideas.”
One Never Knows, Do One?, Myanna’s newest CD [release date, November 4] might just be the best yet. The title hints at the musical direction of this CD: from the sweeter, smoother jazz/funk to a hotter, organ-based R&B/jazz beat. At the heart of this new CD the bold funk/blues style of jazz is driven by the inimitable groove of world-renown drummer, Bernard Purdie.
Eric Jackson, the respected host of WGBH’s jazz show, Eric in the Evening, already has exclaimed, “This is exciting music that is full of passionate playing and good tunes.” The CD and one of the tracks are dedicated to the late, great Illinois Jacquet, one of Myanna’s most significant influences.
Written By: Myanna Pontoppidan; Vinny Damaio
One Never Knows, Do One? - 2004 Bridge City Records
After Hours - 1997 Bridge City Records
Myanna - 1991 Bridge City Records
Boston Jazz - 1998 - Vee Records
Girls' Night Out EP - 1987
We play mostly originals - jazz/funk/blues. Our sets usually range from 50 minutes to 90 minutes.
This is our song list - sorted by tempo
Chillin' at the Lake
Our Little Panda
Cat in the Window
Let’s go to the Park
El Corazon Solo
An Island’s Caress
Blame it on the Sun
You Don't Know me