Home » Jazz Musicians » Mary Louise Knutson

Mary Louise Knutson

Minneapolis-based 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 jazz trio CD, In the Bubble, ranked in JazzWeek's Top 10 and remained on the chart for 19 weeks straight. Six standards and four originals - which range from a swinging Oscar Peterson Trio-style "It Could Happen to You” to a smooth jazz version of “You Don’t Know What Love Is” to a Keith Jarrett style "You Are My Sunshine" - complete this highly accessible mainstream-to-modern collection.

Knutson tours regularly with her group, the Mary Louise Knutson Trio, whose music has been described by JazzTimes as "state-of-the-art piano trio finery," and by the Star Tribune (Mpls, St. Paul) as "timeless, classic piano trio music, right up there with Bill Evans and Bill Charlap." And from 2010-2018, Knutson toured with trumpeter Doc Severinsen, former bandleader for the Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson.

Knutson has also performed with such jazz greats as Dizzy Gillespie, Kurt Elling, Bobby McFerrin, Dianne Reeves, Kevin Mahogany, Randy Brecker, Bobby Shew, Nicholas Payton, Terell Stafford, Terence Blanchard, Richie Cole, Ernie Watts, Greg Abate, Von Freeman, Slide Hampton, Mike Stern, Peter Erskine, Billy Hart, Ed Shaughnessy, Richard Davis, and more.

As a show player, she has performed with such artists as Reba McEntire, Michael Bolton, Jordin Sparks, Trisha Yearwood, Ivan Neville, Sam Moore, Donny Osmond, Smokey Robinson, the Osmond Brothers, and comedians Phyllis Diller, Jack Carter, Rob Schneider, Kevin Nealon, Judy Tenuta, 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" International 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. Featured tracks include her award-winning compositions and signature arrangements of such jazz classics as "Tangerine," "Green Dolphin Street," and "Gone With the Wind," and range from the joyful lyricism of "Call Me When You Get There" to the impassioned blaze of "Meridian."

Read more




Jazz Face: Mary Louise Knutson

Jazz Face: Mary Louise Knutson

Source: JazzINK by Andrea Canter

Ten years ago, Minneapolis-based pianist Mary Louise Knutson released her first recording (Call Me When You Get There), about equal parts original compositions and new arrangements of standards. The reviews were raves, the airplay was off the charts. We wanted more. But we had to wait a decade. In the interim, Mary Louise kept busy, touring the Midwest with her trio, Italy with Debbie Duncan, becoming one of the very first call accompanists for area singers and holding down the ...

"This is timeless, classic piano trio music, right up there with Bill Evans and Bill Charlap."- Pamela Espeland, Twin Cities Critics Tally 2011: Top 10 Albums, Star Tribune, bebopified.com "Swinging and wonderful...In the Bubble is my pleasant surprise of the day. I love it." - Judy Carmichael - Radio host, Judy Carmichael's Jazz Inspired, NYC "Polished, accomplished and always in the pocket...tasty throughout, this is a goodie not to be missed." - Chris Spector, Midwest Record Review "...a masterful combination of original works and new arrangements...Knutson's compositions are marked by exquisite melodies, emotive harmonies, shifting rhythms and an elegant touch that recalls McPartland, Arriale, and Jarrett." - Andrea Canter, JazzINK.com

Primary Instrument




Willing to teach

Intermediate to advanced


Private instruction for all levels of Jazz Piano, Composition, Arranging, Theory. Evenings. Remote Lessons on Zoom or South Minneapolis studio. Knutson is a former instructor in jazz piano and improvisation at Carleton College. She also conducts a variety of masterclasses, including Jazz Voicings and Scales: Freedom from the Written Page, which assists students in building jazz chords for solo and ensemble playing and outlines a starting point for improvisation

Read more





Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.