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Muhal Richard Abrams: One Line, Two Views

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Album Review

Pianist/composer extraordinaire Abrams needs no preface for his singular-minded, forward-thinking music, save that this recording might represent its zenith. Jazz contexts, progressive ideals, improv within deft frameworks — it's all here. Abrams is accompanied by New Yorkers Mark Feldman (violin), Marty Ehrlich and Patience Higgins (reeds), Tony Cedras (accordion), Anne LeBaron (harp), Eddie Allen (trumpet), Bryan Carrott (vibes), Lindsey Horner (bass), and Reggie Nicholson (drums). The bulk of this program is based on developmental themes. Four of the seven pieces are quite long. The 18 1/2-minute "Ensemble Song" features all group members freely playing percussion and tossing polyphonic snippets of poetry lines under Ehrlich's elongated alto sax and Cedras' inquiring accordion. A pure blues piano-trumpet figure concludes this awesome concerto-like piece. The highlight of the recording, "11 over 4," is a hard bopper, as Abrams' Mal Waldron-like piano intro lights the fuse on an impressive poly-melody and 12 minutes of Muhal's best-ever sounds. A similar bop rhythm is used in "Tribute to Julius Hemphill and Don Pullen," with busy piano and cool accordion representing these fallen jazz princes. The shorter, seven-minute "Textures 95" is lovely in its construct, with cascading piano and serene violin giving way to accordion and surging saxes. "The Prism 3" starts with crying horns, boppish lines, and Nicholson's hyperkinetic drums leading to Allen's "Tequila"-inflected trumpet solo. The combination of these instruments, and the unique way that Abrams brings them all together, is delightful. This is certainly Abrams' shining hour — one of many bright moments for a pivotal American icon. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi


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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Muhal Richard Abrams: One Line, Two Views, Muhal Richard Abrams
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