Thirty years ago Mary Anne followed the new music to New York City, from her home state of California. She sang and played with Jimmy Lyons, Dewey Johnson, Karen Borca, Jay Oliver, William Parker, Eddie Gale, Paul Murphy in concerts, clubs, lofts and recording studios; including Carnegie Recital Hall and Damrosch Park with Karen Borca’s Band, the Central Park Concert Series, Environ, Ali’s Alley, Soundscape and Kool Festivals.
“Mary Anne Driscoll can play the piano with the roiling, chromatic frenzy of a Cecil Taylor and sing like a gentler Sarah Vaughan.”
~Jon Pareles, New York Times
Searching for the best piano and recording studio in New York led to CBS, where the doors opened for her independent productions. Grants allowed her to manage, record and release In a Dream Stream, the first of three sessions at CBS. At that time she composed, arranged, recorded and produced work with Jimmy Lyons, Dewey Johnson and Karen Borca for Paul Murphy. CBS Studios closed, and Paul led the quintet at RCA, releasing Cloudburst in 1983.
“Driscoll is a genuine discovery.”
~Nate Dorward, Cadence, reviewing Inside Out
In 1992 she led a trio session dedicated to Jimmy Lyons with William Parker and Paul Murphy at Mapleshade Studios. In Maine as of 1990, composing and working in new media, Mary Anne transitioned to a versatile teaching practice in 1995. Her neighbor was composer John Duffy, who championed her work across jazz and classical soundscapes. In 1997 she formed a quintet with Michael Whitehead, Bruce Boege, Jimmy Lyden and Jeff Densmore. Jammin’ in Town, a mix of live dates and rehearsals brought her new music international opportunity. The band was honored in 2000 as part of a cultural exchange with Hungary. Jim Campell presented Mary Anne’s music and philosophy in 2001 with a two-part public radio program. In 2003 Cadence Historical released Red Snapper, a CBS duo/trio session she produced. The CIMP label then produced and recorded Inside Out, an instrumental reunion with Murphy in 2004. Interest in her work as a soloist also grew at this time.
"From bunk to Monk to Driscoll."
~John Duffy, Meet the Composer Founder, New York
ASCAP grants for 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 recognize Mary Anne’s musical exploration. Her piano improvisation is featured on ASCAP’s prestigious jazz podcast. In 2006 she went to Holland and recorded Passage, her first solo session. It juxtaposes her passion for traditional style vocals with free piano improvisation. After the recording she went to Bordeaux for a concert and residency with Didier Lasserre. In addition to concerts, Mary Anne remains active as a clinician and teacher. She is expanding her practice into music therapy and recently returned from Kyoto where she gave a concert and conducted a seminar on improvisation for music therapists.
“The most wonderful thing a woman can do is sing.”
~Abbey Lincoln, after their duet at Scullers in Boston
A California native, Mary Anne drew musical inspiration from nature and a mosaic of cultures. Her uncle Charley taught her to scat. She learned piano by ear, accompanying him on the trumpet and playing for elementary school events. Composer Suzanne Toolan introduced profound experience with classics from Bach to Britten during high school. Mary Anne conducted choirs, refining her ear for composition, preparing for musical study at College of San Mateo and San Francisco State. She also explored electronic music and began producing live recordings, tutored, assisting teachers and implementing her innovative approaches in music education for elementary school and college settings. By 1975 she was recording her work, writing and arranging for ensembles while performing and connecting at Keystone Korner with musicians who paved the way for her journey to the east.
“Music is language born of the soul, transmitted to the heart, interpreted through sound.”
~Mary Anne Driscoll