Minneapolis-based jazz 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 new 2011 trio release, In the Bubble, showcases her tasteful playing and arranging as well as her gift for composition. Six standards plus five originals - which range from a McCoy-ish “Can You Hear Me Now?” to an ECM style “Sea of Qi” to a gospel style “Luminous” (a bridge written for “You Are My Sunshine”) - complete this highly accessible mainstream-to-modern collection. Twin Cities rhythm icons, bassist Gordon Johnson and drummer Phil Hey, are Knutson’s bandmates for the mainstream styles, which comprise half the album. Two other dynamic drummers, Greg Schutte and Craig Hara, are individually featured with Knutson and Johnson for the remaining tunes, which cover a variety of contemporary jazz styles.
The pianist’s debut release, Call Me When You Get There, charted in JazzWeek’s Top 50 for eight consecutive weeks and earned her the award for Top New Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year from KWJL, Palmdale, CA, in 2001. In 2005, she was a finalist in the Kennedy Center’s Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Pianist Competition. In 2006, she was a Minnesota Music Awards nominee for both Jazz Artist of the Year and Pianist of the Year.
Knutson performs regularly with her group the Mary Louise Knutson Trio at clubs, festivals, and concert halls here and abroad; also with area vocalists Connie Evingson and Debbie Duncan; and with a variety of instrumental groups including the JazzMN Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra, and the Chuck Lazarus Quartet. Knutson has also performed with such jazz greats as Dizzy Gillespie, Bobby McFerrin, Dianne Reeves, Kevin Mahogany, Nicholas Payton, Bobby Shew, Ernie Watts, Mike Stern, Peter Erskine, and many others.