One of the hottest and most soulful saxophonists to be based in Massachusetts, Myanna plays music that mixes together jazz improvisation with funky rhythms, expressive playing and catchy tunes. Her music, whether it is an original or a cover tune, is colorful and infectious, and she is a consistent crowd pleaser.
Myanna grew up in a household that was always full of music, and she remembers being drawn to creating music from an early age. There were many years of lessons on various instruments, but it wasn't until she was exposed to jazz while in high school that she discovered the saxophone. "I loved playing the saxophone from the start, and fell in love with it immediately", she says.
Myanna started on tenor, but soon switched her focus to alto when she entered Berklee College of music, studying with the legendary teacher Joe Viola. Upon transferring to the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, she was thrilled to learn she'd be having an ensemble class with the immortal drummer Max Roach. “I learned a lot about improvising, and ensemble skills from him - things I still think about and use today. ”
After a year at UMass, Myanna began to work with the band Lilith and soon dropped out of college. Performing with Lilith in a lot of different clubs in the Amherst and North Hampton area gave her experience playing rock and roll and r&b covers with a popular all-female group. At this point her focus switched back to tenor - a better fit for that style of music. She next worked with the Bill Bellamy Project for three years. In 1984 when Didi Stewart and Sandy Martin were putting together the band Girls’ Night Out, Myanna was one of the first people they called. The group, which lasted four years and was quite popular in the New England area, evolved from one that paid tribute to girl groups of the 1960s to an ensemble that featured originals by its musicians.
When she left Girls Night Out, Myanna started her own band, wrote a lot of songs, and put out her debut recording, the 1991 CD called Myanna. In 1994 she also began playing with the Love Dogs, an original blues-r&b-jump blues band led by the lead singer and featuring a three piece horn section. She has continued up to the present time playing with both her group and the Love Dogs.
During the Covid outbreak in 2020, Myanna started writing songs again after a many years hiatus. She and some of the finest musicians in the area then went into the recording studio in early 2022. The result is now out on her own Bridge City Records label. The CD is entitled Divine Dysfunktion - a reference to the the early months of Covid - and features 10 tracks - nine of which are originals, and a favorite tune by Ray Brown.
Thus far, Myanna has recorded four CDs as a leader (Myanna, After Hours and One Never Knows, Do One?, Divine Dysfunktion), all for the Bridge City label. “With my band, we play a form of jazz, a soulful funky version with a lot of backbeat and funk with a focus on improvisation. My music has become more funky, bluesy, rootsy and spontaneous over time. In addition to all the favorable press she has received, she has won awards for best jazz artist from both the "Boston Music Awards" and "The Boston Phoenix Readers Poll".
These days Myanna continues playing regularly in clubs and concerts with both her own band, and with the Love Dogs, as well as guest appearances and freelance gigs. With her attractive and soulful sounds on her horns, her versatility, and her arranging and compositional skills, she remains in constant demand.
“I'm so blessed to be doing what I'm doing,” she says. “I’m very fortunate to be able to work at something I’m passionate about. I plan to continue putting my music out there as long as I am able, and hope people continue to enjoy it. That would make me very happy.” As it would Myanna's large audience. She is one of Massachusetts' true musical treasures.