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Meredith d'Ambrosio

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Biography

A soft-toned singer whose intelligent interpretation of lyrics is always thoughtful, Meredith d'Ambrosio is also an effective accompanist as a pianist. Her father sang with big bands, while her mother played piano in nightclubs. At age six, d'Ambrosio began to study piano and sing. After graduating from high school and attending the Boston Museum School (1958-1959), she was a professional musician in addition to being a painter. In 1966, she was invited by John Coltrane to be part of his Japanese tour but, feeling she was not ready, d'Ambrosio turned him down. More than a decade later, her confidence was higher and she began to record, often with her husband, pianist Eddie Higgins. An introverted but accessible performer for those who listen closely, Meredith d'Ambrosio has recorded rewarding sets for Spring Inc. (1978), Shiah (1981), Palo Alto (1982). Sunnyside, which became her permanent home base as a recording artist in 1985, reissued albums from all of these labels later on. She was voted in the Top Five for Talent Deserving Wider Recognition category for Female Vocalist in Down Beat International Critics Jazz Poll from 1982 to 1985 and from 1987-1991. In 1994, she was the featured guest on Marian McPartland's syndicated radio program Piano Jazz, and recorded and toured regularly.

Although she worked primarily as a jazz singer and pianist, she is also well known as a composer, lyricist, and teacher. D'Ambrosio is respected in visual art circles as well: she's a calligrapher, watercolorist, and creator of eggshell mosaics. She has recorded steadily if not prolifically for someone with such a busy schedule. Some of her stand-out recordings from her early years with Sunnyside include, The Cove (with Lee Konitz and Fred Hersch in 1988); Shadowland (with Ben Riley, Erik Friedlander, and Jay Leonhart) in 1995; and 1997's Silent Passion (a duet recording pairing her voice and piano with guitarist Gene Bertoncini).

She released Out of Nowhere in 2000, resulting in a nomination for a prestigious Django award by the French Academy of Jazz for Best Female Jazz Vocalist. The year 2002 was a banner one for d'Ambrosio; Sunnyside re-released a slew of recordings from her back catalog as well a new album, Love Is for the Birds. D'Ambrosio didn't record again until 2006, when she cut the all-original program Wishing on the Moon. She took a long break from recording, concentrating on her painting, touring, performing at festivals, and teaching. She re-emerged in 2012 with By Myself, a collection of 14 songs by the late composer Arthur Schwartz (1900-1984); it was the first of her 17 albums to be devoted to a single composer. D'Ambrosio's only accompaniment on the album is her piano.

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Born:

1941 in Boston, MA

Genre
Years Active:

'70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Contemporaries