Composer, arranger, and pianist Muhal Richard Abrams was largely a self-taught musician who was deeply influenced by the bop innovations of the late Bud Powell. Abrams was a beacon in the jazz community as a co-founder (and first president), in 1965, of Chicago's legendary vanguard music institution, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). While Abrams was well known as a mentor to three generations of younger musicians -- born in 1930, he was a decade older than his closest peer in the AACM -- as a bandleader and professor at the Banff Center, Columbia University, Syracuse University, and the BMI Composers' Workshop, he was not always recognized for his substantial contribution as a player and recording artist. Abrams' first gigs were playing the blues, R&B, and hard bop circuit in Chicago and working as a sideman with everyone from Dexter Gordon and Max Roach to Ruth Brown and Woody Shaw. But Abrams' own recordings revealed his strength as an innovator. His 1967 debut, Levels and Degrees of Light on Chicago's Delmark label, set the course for his own career and that of many of his AACM contemporaries, including Henry Threadgill, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Leo Smith, and Anthony Braxton. Abrams was also a conduit for the tradition. Though his music was noted for its vanguard edginess, he nonetheless bridged everything in his playing from boogie-woogie to bebop to free improv, as evidenced by Sightsong and Rejoicing with the Light, both on the Black Saint label. As a composer, Abrams moved through the classical tradition as well. Novi, his first symphony for orchestra and jazz quartet, has been performed at various festivals, and the Kronos Quartet performed his String Quartet, No. 2. Muhal Richard Abrams died at his home in Manhattan in October 2017; he was 87 years old. ~ Thom Jurek, Rovi

Muhal Richard Abrams - Levels And Degrees Of Light (1968) FULL ALBUM
Muhal Richard Abrams - Things To Come From Those Now Gone (1975 Full Album)
Muhal Richard Abrams - Young At Heart (solo piano)
Muhal Richard Abrams' Experimental Band at the Chicago Jazz Festival
Muhal Richard Abrams - Blu Blu Blu
NEA Jazz Masters: Muhal Richard Abrams (2010)
Ojai Music Festival 2017: Steve Smith interviews Muhal Richard Abrams and Roscoe Mitchell
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