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Mary Louise Knutson

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 long-awaited new trio CD, In the Bubble, ranked in JazzWeek’s Top 10 and remained on the chart for 19 consecutive weeks. Six standards and four originals complete this highly accessible mainstream-to-modern collection. - Styles range from a swinging Oscar Peterson Trio-style "It Could Happen to You” to a McCoy-ish "Can You Hear Me Now?" to a gospel style "You Are My Sunshine”.

Fresh off tour with former Tonight Show bandleader-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 how jazz musicians communicate on stage, the typical structure of songs, and the use of improvisation.

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, the Minnesota Orchestra, and the Chuck Lazarus Quartet. For more info, please visit: