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Album Review

One of pianist/composer Muhal Richard Abrams' strongest big-band dates, this set has eight of his compositions interpreted by a most unusual group. Abrams is joined by four saxophonists (including altoist John Purcell and baritonist Patience Higgins), a five-piece rhythm section (with Warren Smith on vibes and timpani), trumpeter Jack Walrath, trombonist Alfred Patterson, Mark Taylor on French horn, Joe Daley on tuba, and Joel Brandon, who whistles. Brandon's otherworldly whistling (which is often quite eerie) certainly adds personality to some of the ensembles. Among the songs that are performed are "Plus Equal Minus Balance," "One for the Whistler," "Stretch Time," and a fairly straight-ahead blues ("Blu Blu Blu") that is dedicated to Muddy Waters. The music occasionally glances back at the past but mostly looks forward in its own unique way. Recommended.


Born: 19 September 1930 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Composer, arranger, and pianist Muhal Richard Abrams is largely a self-taught musician who was deeply influenced by the bop innovations of the late Bud Powell. Abrams has been 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 is well-known as a mentor to three generations of younger musicians -- born in 1930 he was a decade older than his closest...
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