Withholding Nothing

Alton Merrell
Release Date: 11/24/2023

Pianist and composer Alton Merrell’s sensitive and lyrical new album


Withholding Nothing represents a personal and spiritual journey of surrender and simultaneously showing up in life as your authentic self, something important to artist Alton Merrell. Through dynamic performances at the piano and a world-class band, Merrell takes listeners on a spirit–filled musical excursion while sharing his poignant message of how blessing comes through surrender and encourages listeners to surrender by Withholding Nothing.

On sale November 24, 2023 via Pittsburgh’s own MCG Jazz label, Merrell’s new album offers several original compositions along with new arrangements of well-known hymns in a unique blend of lyrical melodies, rich harmonies and fluid technique that spans multiple music genres – including jazz, gospel, classical, and rhythm and blues. With nods to jazz luminaries like McCoy Tyner, Fats Waller, and the jazz fusion work of Herbie Hancock, a few of Merrell’s original tunes “Alfred Blues,” “Main Street Rag,” “Expectations,” display a complex harmonic vocabulary, syncopated rhythms, blues infused melodies and a jazz fusion sound sure to leave the listener wanting more. Through Merrell’s new jazz arrangements of “Amazing Grace,” “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” and “I Love You Lord,” listeners get a reimagined experience of these well-known hymns.

The title track, “Withholding Nothing,” was written by William McDowell and arranged by Merrell.  Significant to Merrell, this song got him through a difficult time in his life; he interprets this experience in a lyrical, moving arrangement that sonically represents surrender. The album features renowned artists Jeff Bush, Zanetta Wingfield Butler, Chris Coles, Anton DeFade, James Johnson III, Jason Kush, James Moore, Denzel Chismar-Oliver, John Shannon, Paul Thompson and Thomas Wendt. Merrell’s new album is a spirit-filled jazz musical excursion that deeply touches the soul.

Dr. Alton Merrell Dr. Alton Merrell is a world class pianist, composer, and educator. He has performed and taught throughout the United States, Europe, Asia and parts of the Caribbean.

Merrell is a sought-after jazz pianist who has performed with legendary artists, including Antonio Hart, Tia Fuller, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Curtis Fuller, Benny Golson, Slide Hampton, Jimmy Heath, Roger Humphries, Sean Jones, Hubert Laws, Delfeayo Marsalis, Christian McBride, Jimmy Owens, Rufus Reed, Jim Snidero, Sachal Vasandani, Kim Nazarian, Kenny Washington, and Jeff “Tain” Watts, and regularly performs with Pittsburgh’s best jazz artists.

Merrell is a current member of the Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra and has performed multiple times with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Jazz Orchestra, Cleveland State Jazz Heritage Orchestra, Pittsburgh Concert Chorale, YSU All-Star Alumni Jazz Ensemble, Warren Philharmonic Orchestra, and the OMEA Intercollegiate All-Star Jazz Ensemble.

Merrell is a composer of illustrious works in gospel jazz and regularly performs with local and nationally known Gospel/Christian artists, some of whom include Kim Burrell, David and Nicole Binion, Morris Chapman, Maurette Brown Clark, Darwin Hobbs, Israel Houghton, Doe Jones, Donnie McClurkin, Martha Munizzi, Dorothy Norwood, LaShunn Pace, Alvin Slaughter, Parkes Stewart, and the late Rev. Timothy Wright. He also has been featured several times on the nationally televised Bobby Jones Gospel Show and has served as orchestrator and music director of several oratorios that incorporated several musical genres including Gospel, Broadway, Latin-Brazilian, Neo-Classical, Caribbean, World Music, among others.

Merrell is a current member of the group Firm Roots, a jazz sextet made up of some of the finest musicians in Pittsburgh, PA, and leads his own instrumental jazz group, “Illuminators” as well as his own gospel jazz vocal group “Dr. Alton Merrell & Impact.”

Merrell is a self-published author of five books with online course offerings for each. These books include 30 Modern Bebop Licks: 30 Exercises to Help You Master Bebop Improvisation, Music Theory for the Improvising Musician, and The Complete Piano Technique Course: Book 1, 2 and 3.

From the University of Pittsburgh, Merrell received his Ph.D. in Jazz Studies with a research focus on jazz piano performance and pedagogy. His primary research focus was on The Life and Music of McCoy Tyner: An Examination of the Sociocultural Influences on McCoy Tyner and His Music. From Youngstown State University, Alton earned a Bachelor of Music in Music Education and Classical Piano Performance, graduating Cum Laude, and a Master of Music in Jazz Piano performance.

Currently the Professor of Jazz Piano at West Virginia University, Merrell is the former Director of Jazz Studies at Youngstown State University and has previously taught at the University of Pittsburgh. Merrell has taught students all over the world and continues to train musicians worldwide though his online school Minstrel School of Music (

Whether performing or teaching, Merrell incorporates diverse musical styles in his repertoire to minister love and hope to people around the world.