Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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McManus, Jill (Gillian)

McManus, Jill (Gillian), pianist. composer, teacher, writer; b. Englewood, NJ, 28 July 1940. Her mother, Nona Coxhead, b. in Melbourne, Australia, was a novelist and writer on the mind and cognition; one of her publications was the book Mind Power. Her father was Stuart Brinkerhoff Coxhead. Her family moved to Manhattan when she was about six months old.  Her parents divorced in 1944. Her mother remarried and the family moved to Fairfield, CT, when Jill was about 5, and later to Westport, CT. Her mother later divorced again, and wrote courses for the Famous Writers Schools in Westport, CT. Her brother is Philip Cerny (b. 1946).

Jill started piano lessons at 7. Attended Westport School of Music, studied privately with with Heida Hermanns. Graduated from Staples High School, Westport, CT., and Wellesley College (B.A. in English). She became interested in Native American culture, partly through a Native American friend in high school --this interest was to become important in her life and music--and became interested in jazz at Wellesley. She then moved to Manhattan and was a reporter/researcher in Foreign and National Affairs at Time Magazine, 1963-71, and wrote jazz record reviews. Married Time writer Jason McManus (1966-71). Studied jazz with John Mehegan at his studio 1963-65; Roland Hanna, 1969-71. Began playing in early '70s. She was a member and then leader of the Jazz Sisters, 1974-77, who appeared at Town Hall, 1977, Ramapo Jazz Festival, opened for Mingus at Village Gate, CBS-TV etc. She was music director at Concord Hotel, St. Maarten's, N.A., 1977. She toured in MI , 1978. She led All-Stars playing her originals at Women's Jazz Festival, Kansas City, 1980. She played NY Salutes to Women in Jazz 1979-81, 1985, and at Symphony Space. In the summer of 1980 she traveled to New Mexico where she had a life-changing experience attending a rain ceremony, and meeting Hopi song composers. She returned every summer for over ten years, teaching jazz workshops in Santa Fe in 1982-5, and on her album Symbols of Hopi she included songs of her own as well as those of Hopi songwriters. Her pieces were also recorded by Red Rodney and Rein DeGraaff. Tribute to John Mehegan, 1984; the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center with septet, 1985, Cate's, Arlington, VA, with Frank Wess Trio, 1987. She appeared in England (1981, 83, 87, 90, 92, and 97), and in Berne, Switzerland, 1989. In '80s and early '90s, she had own duos, trios, quartets. She also worked with Major Holley, Sam Jones, Wayne Dockery, Eddie Gomez, Brian Torff, Ben Riley, Billy Hart, the Pepper Adams Quartet (1980-81), Tom Harrell, Marc Johnson, Frank Wess, others. She taught at Ethical Culture School; Rutgers University's Livingston College as regular sub for Kenny Barron when he was on tour (1980-81); jazz piano, theory, and history at Mannes College of Music Extension Division (1981-91). She has also done private teaching from 1975-1995.
In the '90s, McManus worked as a freelance writer and researcher (including research for a number of articles on jazz, and for Donald Maggin's book on Stan Getz), and in the 00s, continues to play, compose and write.

William C. Handy blues (1973); Duo with Richard Davis, As One (rec. 1975); Symbols of Hopi (producer, arranger and pianist, 1983)

Radio broadcasts:
NPR interview, KUNM in Albuquerque, and a station in Santa Fe; Marian McPartland's "Piano Jazz" (1992); "Women's Hour," BBC (1992). Contributor to NPR program on JoAnne Brackeen, by Jim Luce and Sally Placksin.

Unissued video:
Tribute to Hopi Composers concert at Saint Peter's, 1984, with Tom Harrell, Sonny Fortune, Marc Johnson, Billy Hart, Louis Mofsie, Alan Brown.

Score for documentary film "In the Spirit of Haystack," by Jane Morrison (1984); "Canyon Road Suite," for piano and cello (comm. 1984); "Short Rainbow" (on Modal Soul) and "Cloud People" recorded by Rein deGraaff/Dick Vennik Quartet (both Timeless), the latter as title tune of "Best Jazz Album of 1984" in Holland. "Splurge," by Red Rodney, Red Snapper (1989); "Retrospective" by Dave Green, Time Will Tell (2000).

Profiles:"Jazz Women at the Keyboard," by Mary Unterbrink (Mcfarland, 1983); Chapter 3 of "Madame Jazz," by Leslie Gourse, (Oxford University Press, 1995), articles and reviews including New York Times, New York Post, Christian Science Monitor, Kansas City Star, Albuquerque Tribune, Albuquerque Journal, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post.

Works by McManus:
"Native American languages," Grolier Encyclopedia on American History, 2000.
Liner notes for Reader's Digest Recorded Music CD packages;
Liner notes for various artists.
Stories about musicians including Bela Szakcsi Lakotas, Carol Sudhalter, Brad Mehldau, Magali Souriau, Toshiko Akiyoshi, painter David X. Young and his jazz loft, on www.totahbass.com
Entries on American music and biographies of musicians (60 items) for Americana A to Z, Reader's Digest Books, l995.
Biographies of Tommy Flanagan and Marcus Roberts, Current Biography, l994-5, and articles on Dizzy Gillespie, Roger Kellaway, and Jazz Theory, in The Piano Stylist, 1992.
"American Women Jazz Composers and Arrangers," Vol. 1, The Musical Woman,
Greenwood Press, 1984.
"The Other Person is Ultimately Oneself," on global peace; review of documentary film, "The Four Corners, a National Sacrifice Area?," Global Perspective Quarterly, 1984.
Coverage of Kool Jazz Festival, New York Post, 1982.
Approximately 4O music stories and record reviews, Time Magazine, 1965-1971.
Producer, writer, educational video "Children of Long Life"(1994) on diabetes prevention for the Dine Nation, versions in English and Navajo language.

Contact information:
c/o Zia Music

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