Born: September 19, 1930 Primary Instrument: Piano
Muhal Richard Abrams..... World renowned pianist and composer
has been in the forefront of the contemporary music scene for well over forty years. Muhal is a co-founder of The Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), founder of The AACM School of Music and President of The Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, New York City Chapter. Muhal was the first recipient of the grand international jazz award, The JazzPar Prize, which was awarded to him in 1990 by the Danish Jazz Center in Copenhagen, Denmark.. In 1999 Muhal was presented a proclamation by Richard M. Daley, Mayor of the City of Chicago, declaring April 11, 1999 as Muhal Richard Abrams Day in Chicago.
Except for a brief period of study at Chicago Musical College and Governors State University in Chicago, Illinois where he studied electronic music, Mr. Abrams is predominately a self-taught musician who, as a result of many years of observation, analysis, and practice as a performing musician, has developed a highly respected command of a variety of musical styles both as a pianist and composer. The versatile Mr. Abrams and members of The AACM are responsible for some of the most original new music approaches of the last three decades.
Some recent compositions of Mr. Abrams are: Transversion I OP. 6 for Symphony Orchestra, “NOVI” For Symphony Orchestra and Jazz Quartet, Variations for Solo Saxophone, Flute, and Chamber Orchestra, commissioned by the City of Chicago for the 1982 New Music America Festival; Quintet for Voice (Soprano), Piano, Harp, Cello, and Violin, commissioned by The Kitchen and performed at Symphony Space in April, 1982; Improvisation Structures I- II-III-IV-V-VI performed in a series of six solo piano concerts for the 1983 New York State New Music Network Tour; TRIO,” a three-part composition for solo piano, performed at the New Music America Festival in 1984 in Hartford, Conn. July, 1984, and hosted by Real Artways; “Odyssey of King” performed by The Brooklyn Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra at Brooklyn's Botanical Garden, February, 1984 and “Celebrate Brooklyn” at the Prospect Park Bandshell, Brooklyn, New York on June 23, 1984; “String Quartet #2” was performed by The Kronos String Quartet on November 22, 1985 at Carnegie Recital Hall in New York City; “Piano Duet #1” performed by Ursula Oppens and Frederic Rzewski for Music at the Crossroads on February 11, 1986, and sponsored by The Philip Morris Co. at the Whitney Museum; “Saturation Blue” performed on March 14, 1986, by The Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra Chamber Ensemble at Freeport High School, Freeport, NY, Tania Leon, Conductor; “Folk Tales 88'” commissioned by The Brooklyn Philharmonic and performed by The Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra at Fort Hamilton Base, Brooklyn, NY on July 9, 1988, Tania Leon, Conductor; “Transversion I OP. 6” performed February 22 & 23, 1991 by The Detroit Symphony Orchestra at the Unisys Corporation Classical Roots series in Detroit, Michigan; “What A Man” commissioned for the Black Repertory Ensemble by the Center for Black Music Research, Columbia College Chicago and the Friends of the Chicago Public Library in honor of the Late Mayor Harold Washington and to commemorate the opening of The Harold Washington Library on October 7, 1991; “The String Quartet III” commissioned by Bang On The Can and performed by The Cassatt String Quartet in May, 1992; Strings and Things commissioned by The String Trio of
New York in 1992, “Saxophone Quartet 1” commissioned by The Rova Saxophone Quartet in 1994; “New Horizons” commissioned by New Band in 1995; Duet for Violin and Piano, commissioned by the McKim Fund in the Library of Congress, 1996;
“Impressions 1” commissioned by The Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and performed in 1997 by The SEM Ensemble, Petr Kotik conductor.
“Tomorrow’s Song, As Yesterday Sings Today” commissioned by the American Composers Orchestra, Dennis Russell Davies Director; with the generous support of Francis Goelet; “Baritone Voice And String Quartet” commissioned by Thomas Buckner and performed at Merkin Hall in New york City on February 25, 1999; “2000 Plus The Twelfth Step” commissioned for The Carnegie Hall Jazz Band; Jon Faddis, Music Director, by The Carnegie Hall Corporation. The world premiere was given at Carnegie Hall, New York City on Thursday, March 18 1999.
In addition to teaching privately for the past twenty years or more, Mr. Abrams has taught jazz composition and improvisational classes at: The Banff Center in Banff, Canada, Columbia University in New York City, Syracuse University in Syracuse, NY, The New England Conservatory, Boston Mass., The BMI Composers workshop in New York City, and The Sibelius Academy, Helsinki, Finland.
Max Roach, Dexter Gordon, Clifford Jordan, Sonny Stitt, Woody Shaw, Anthony Braxton, The Art Ensemble of Chicago, Eddie Harris, Von Freeman, and many others.
Recording and touring the United States, Canada, and Europe with his orchestra, sextet, quartet, duo, and as a solo pianist. In addition, composing and scoring large orchestra and chamber works.
Albums as Leader and a few sessions
Basic discography from Chicago radio station WNUR
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