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Abrams,Muhal Richard

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Abrams, Muhal Richard, pianist, composer, leader (also clarinet, saxophones); b. Chicago, Sep. 19, 1930. Abrams studied piano at Chicago Musical Coll. for four years beginning at age 17, but says he was essentially self- taught. He first worked professionally in 1948 and wrote arrangements for saxophonist King Fleming from 1950. Abrams frequently sat in with local and visiting musicians, including Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Gene Ammons, Johnny Griffin, Dexter Gordon, Art Farmer, Max Roach, Sonny Stitt, and Johnny Griffin. Beginning in 1955, he played in Walter Perkins’s group MJT + 3, for which he also wrote. In 1961 Abrams formed The Experimental Band with Donald Rafael Garrett and the band was to include many of the new Chicago musicians. This led to Abrams becoming the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians’ first president on May 8, 1965. He emphasized grounding in tradition and experimentation with new forms; his many protégés included Lester Bowie, Anthony Braxton, and trombonist George Lewis. Abrams played with Woody Herman, Ruth Brown, and Lambert, Hen-dricks & Ross, the went to Europe with his own group in 1973. He moved to N.Y. around 1977 and performed and recorded there in various contexts: solo; in duos with Lewis, Braxton, Leroy Jenkins, and Amina Claudine Myers; in small groups; and with a big band. Beginning in 1967, Abrams recorded his innovative compositions. In the mid-1980s he wrote a piece on commission for the Kronos String Quartet. In the late 1980s he led a quintet that included John Purcell and Stanton Davis. Also in the late 1980s, Abrams was associated with classical pianist Ursula Oppens. Several of Abrams’s albums from the 1980s and 1990s feature a band of about 12 people performing music that mixes free improvisation and dissonant writing with swing traditions. His daughter Richarda Abrams sings on “Song For All.”

Abranyi,Kornel [next] [back] Abrams, J. J. - Scriptwriter, television producer, and film director, Career, Sidelights

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