Muhal Richard Abrams | Photo
American pianist, clarinetist, cellist, composer, arranger, bandleader,
educator, administrator and organizer. Born Chicago September 19, 1930.
Muhal Richard Abrams was honored in terms of his general
contribution to music. The International Prize Committee singled out the
diversity and accessibility of Abrams' work, its striking originality,
and the composer's equal devotion to craftsmanship and the pleasure principle.
The Panel found that Abrams' art qualifies for very high attention the
world over. Thus, The JAZZPAR Prize 1990 was given to an artist whose
life and work satisfy the criteria laid down for the award.
To the hard core, Abrams is a real jazz guru, a musicians'
musician, and a moral force. For the past 20 years, no other bandleader,
no matter how well established, has introduced more talented young players
than Abrams. Strongly rooted in the jazz tradition, Abrams is a composer
and performer who draws on the entire history of his people's music. But
he is also inspired by other genres. Through tradition, he illuminates
the path to the future. His many records embrace an unusually wide spectrum
from ragtime and basic blues to free music. After music studies in Chicago,
Abrams began working professionally in 1948. Up to the early 1970s, he
was playing, composing, arranging, teaching, etc. in his hometown. He
worked as a pianist, often accompanying visiting and prominent bop soloists,
but also took the initiative to establish experimental groups. Abrams
was founder and first president of The Association for The Advancement
of Creative Musicians, a co-operative setting up concerts and festivals,
a jazz school, etc. Thus stimulating a hitherto weak and unorganized scene.
Through the many musicians of statue who came out of
AACM, Abrams has been a major influence on the international jazz avant-garde.
He excerpted a profound influence on such important performers as Lester
Bowie, Anthony Braxton, Joseph Jarman and George Lewis. Then in the mid
70s, Abrams moved to New York -studying, playing and composing. He has
also toured internationally, leading combos as well as larger groups.
During the same period, the Italian label Black Saint
has released ten albums under Abrams' name, the latest one, "The
Hearinga Suite", presenting him as a leader of an American studio
At the JAZZPAR Concerts a program of Abrams' compositions
and arrangements - several written for the occasion - was performed with
Denmark's Radio Big Band (now called The Danish Radio Jazz Orchestra)
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