|Origin Chicago, Illinois, US|
Name Muhal Abrams
|Years active 1950s–present|
Instruments Piano Clarinet Cello
Genres Free jazz, Post-bop
|Born September 19, 1930 (age 85) (1930-09-19) |
Occupation(s) Musician bandleader composer
Labels Delmark Black Saint Novus Records New World Pi Recordings
Education DuSable High School, Governors State University
Albums Made in Chicago, Blu Blu Blu, Sightsong, Levels and Degrees of Light, 1‑OQA+19
Muhal richard abrams experimental band live saalfelden jazzfestival 2012
Muhal Richard Abrams (born September 19, 1930, in Chicago, Illinois) is an American educator, administrator, composer, arranger, clarinetist, cellist, and jazz pianist in the free jazz medium.
- Muhal richard abrams experimental band live saalfelden jazzfestival 2012
- Nea jazz masters interview with muhal richard abrams
- Early life
- Loft jazz era
- Later career
- As sideman
Nea jazz masters interview with muhal richard abrams
Abrams attended DuSable High School in Chicago. By 1946, he enrolled in music classes at Roosevelt University, but "I didn't get too much out of that, because it wasn't what I was hearing in the street". He then decided to study independently: "I've always had a natural ability to study and analyze things. I used that ability, not even knowing what it was (it was just a feeling) and started to read books." The books of Joseph Schillinger were very influential in Abrams' development. In Abrams' words:
From there, I acquired a small spinet piano and started to teach myself how to play the instrument and read the notes – or, first of all, what key the music was in. It took time and a lot of sweat. But I analyzed it and before long I was playing with the musicians on the scene. I listened to Art Tatum, Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell and many others and concentrated on Duke Ellington and Fletcher Henderson for composition. Later I got scores and studied more extensive things that take place in classical composition and started to practice classical pieces on the piano.
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. In 1950 he began writing arrangements for the King Fleming Band, and in 1955 played in the hard-bop band Modern Jazz Two + Three, with tenor saxophonist Eddie Harris. After this group folded he kept a low profile until he organized the Experimental Band in 1962, a contrast to his earlier hard bop venture in its use of free jazz concepts. This band, with its fluctuating lineup, evolved into the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), emerging in May 1965 with Abrams as its president. Rather than playing in smoky night clubs, AACM members often rented out theaters and lofts where they could perform for attentive and open-minded audiences. The album Levels and Degrees of Light (1967) was the landmark first recording under Abrams' leadership. On this set, Abrams was joined by the saxophonists Anthony Braxton, Maurice McIntyre, vibraphonist Gordon Emmanuel, violinist Leroy Jenkins, bassists Leonard Jones and Charles Clark, and vocalist Penelope Taylor. Abrams also played with saxophonists Eddie Harris, Gordon, and other more bop-oriented musicians during this era.
Loft jazz era
Abrams moved to New York permanently in 1975 where he was involved in the local Loft Jazz scene. In 1983, he established the New York chapter of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians.
In the 1970s, Abrams composed for symphony orchestras, string quartets, solo piano, voice, and big bands in addition to making a series of larger ensemble recordings that included harp and accordion. He is a widely influential artist, having played sides for many musicians early in his career, releasing important recordings as a leader, and writing classical works such as his "String Quartet No. 2", which was performed by the Kronos Quartet, on November 22, 1985, at the Carnegie Recital Hall in New York. He has recorded extensively under his own name (frequently on the Black Saint label) and as a sideman on others' records. Notably regarding the latter he has recorded with Anthony Braxton Duets 1976 on Arista Records, Marion Brown and Chico Freeman.
He has recorded and toured the United States, Canada and Europe with his orchestra, sextet, quartet, duo and as a solo pianist. His musical affiliations is a "who's who" of the jazz world, including Roach, Gordon, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Art Farmer, Sonny Stitt, Braxton, The Art Ensemble of Chicago, Harris and many others. In 1990 Abrams won the Jazzpar Prize, an annual Danish prize within jazz. Abrams received a 1997 Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award. In May 2009 the National Endowment for the Arts announced that Abrams would be one of the recipients of the 2010 NEA Jazz Masters Award. In June 2010, Abrams was given the Lifetime Achievement Award by New York City's premier jazz festival, known as the Vision Festival.
With Walter Perkins MJT+3
With Roscoe Mitchell
With Joseph Jarman
With Anthony Braxton
With Creative Construction Company
With Kenny Dorham
With Eddie Harris
With Art Ensemble of Chicago
With Marion Brown
With Robin Kenyatta
With Chico Freeman
With Woody Shaw
With Leroy Jenkins
With George Lewis
With Barry Altschul
With Clifford Jordan
With Marty Ehrlich
With Hamiet Bluiett
With Jack DeJohnette