Reviews that mention Muhal Richard Abrams

October 1, 2015


Laroy Wallace McMillan
By Ken Waxman

On the back cover of Henry’s Threadgill’s influential X-75 Vol. 1 LP from 1979, the lanky flutist is surrounded by an all-star assemblage including vocalist/pianist Amina Claudine Myers, flautists Douglas Ewart and Joseph Jarman and bassists Rufus Reid, Brian Smith, Leonard Jones and Fred Hopkins. Squatting in the foreground, almost dwarfed by Hopkins’ bass, is flautist Laroy Wallace McMillan, probably the least known early AACM member. The photo is an apt metaphor for McMillan’s low-profile. New Yorkers however will get to him play in his first Gotham gig in almost two decades this month, as part of pianist Muhal Richard Abrams ensemble also featuring Myers and Jones. MORE

November 3, 2013

Roscoe Mitchell Quartet

Live at A Space 1975
Sackville-Demark SK 2080

Anthony Braxton

Echo Echo Mirror House

Victo cd 125

François Houle/Håvard Wiik


Songlines SGL 1601-2

Evan Tighe


ETC 0001

Something In The Air: Recorded in Canada, Appreciated World-Wide

By Ken Waxman

Without question one of jazz’s most representative records is of a 1954 concert with Bop masters Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Charles Mingus and Max Roach in their only performance together. That the session was recorded in Toronto’s Massey Hall makes it distinctive as well as replaceable. But Jazz at Massey Hall isn’t the only instance of jazz history being made north of the border. Precisely because of gig opportunities for committed international improvisers discs recorded at Canadian gigs or festivals are an important part of the music’s fabric. MORE

November 3, 2013

Arrivals/Departures-New Horizons in Jazz

Stuart Broomer, Brain Morton & Bill Shoemaker
Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation

Book shelf: By Ken Waxman

Distinguished as much for its scholarship as the artful, mostly color photos and illustrations which make it an attractive souvenir, this 240-page volume is published by Lisbon’s annual Jazz em Agosto (JeA) Festival to mark its 30th anniversary of innovative programming. It says a lot about the individuals who program JeA that rather than commissioning a vainglorious run-down of the festival’s greatest hits, they turned to three respected jazz critics to profile 50 of the most important musicians, living or dead, who performed at the festival. MORE

July 12, 2011

Roscoe Mitchell

Sackville SKCD2-3009)

Julius Hemphill

Roi Boyé & the Gotham Mintrels

Sackville SKCD2-3014/15

Oliver Lake/Julius Hemphill

Buster Bee

Sackville SKCD2-3016

George Lewis

The Solo Trombone Record

Sackville SKCD2-3012

Anthony Davis

Of Blues and Dreams

Sackville SKCD2-3020

Karl Berger & Dave Holland

All Kinds of Time

Sackville SKCD2-3010

Barry Altschul Trio

February 12, 2011

Lest We Forget:

Malachi Favors (1927-2004)
By Ken Waxman

Trickster to the end, when bassist Malachi Favors Maghostut died of pancreatic cancer in early 2004, his daughter revealed that he had actually born 10 years earlier than his previously accepted 1937 birth date. In a way that concluding jape was perfectly in character for the versatile bassist who from the mid-1960s until his death was a vital component of the Art Ensemble of Chicago (AEC). The quintet proved that theatricism in the form of face paint, costumes, so-called “little instruments” and stylistic turns could be the source of profound and searching modern jazz – or if you prefer Great Black Music Ancient to the Future. MORE

April 4, 2010

Muhal Richard Abrams/Roscoe Mitchell/Janáček Philharmonic

Mutable 17536-2

Veteran American improvisers, pianist Muhal Richard Abrams and saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell get a rare showcase for their notated works on this notable performance by the Janáček Philharmonic of the Czech Republic, conducted by Petr Kotik. Surprisingly enough for two sound explorers, identified with the avant-garde Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (ACCM), both commissions, Abrams’ Mergertone, and Mitchell’s three-part Non-Cognitive Aspects of the City, use the full resources of the orchestra to add lush, impressionistic coloration to the many harmonies and timbres exposed. MORE

July 2, 2008

A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music

By George E. Lewis
University of Chicago Press

Home from his studies at Yale University in 1971, trombonist George Lewis was walking to his parents’ home on Chicago’s South Side when he heard unusual sounds coming from a nearby brick building. Peering inside he saw a group practicing what he calls “fascinating” music. Asking if he could attend future rehearsals, Lewis was grudgingly welcomed into what he soon found out was the disciplined but inventive milieu of the Association of the Advancement Musicians (AACM). MORE

January 15, 2008

Ken Waxman’s Top CDs for 2007

[In alphabetical order]
For CODA Issue 337

1. Muhal Richard Abrams, Vision Towards Essence Pi Recordings Pi23

2. Johannes Bauer/Thomas Lehn/Jon Rose, Futch Jazzwerkstatt JW 010

3. Bruce Eisenbeil Sextet, Inner Constellation Volume One. Nemu 007

4. Exploding Customer, At Your Service Ayler aylCD-063

5. Scott Fields Ensemble, Beckett Clean Feed CFO69 CD

6. Frank Gratkowski/Misha Mengelberg, Vis-à-vis Leo CD LR 476

7. François Houle, Evan Parker, Benoît Delbecq La Lumière de Pierres psi 07.02

8. Lucas Niggli Big Zoom, Celebrate Diversity Intakt CD 118 MORE

December 1, 2007

Muhal Richard Abrams

Vision Towards Essence
Pi Recordings Pi23

Recorded at 1998’s Guelph Jazz Festival Vision Towards Essence captures New York-based pianist Muhal Richard Abrams’ triumphant solo concert there. A composer and orchestrator as well as a pianist, Abrams invests the nearly 40-minute, three-part recital with enough sonic excursions and augmentations to challenge any notated composition.

Along the way he alludes to practically the entire history of piano music. At various junctions he touches on the airy coloring of rococo recapitulation; andante classical-styled patterning plus staccato interpolations; the double-paced rhythmic gait and ringing bass notes of Swing and boogie woogie; plus the dynamic pulse and rubato inventiveness of free-form jazz. MORE

September 11, 2000


Things To Come From Those Now Gone
Delmark DD-430

Co-founder and first president of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, Muhal Richard Abrams spent his Chicago years (up to 1977) formulating and organizing new and unique ways to approach music. This 1972 reissue highlights many of them.

Although recorded over a two-day period, there's a different grouping on each track, with the sound ranging from romantic semi-classical to out-and-out freebop. At the same time, since THINGS TO COME is a peek into Abrams sonic lab, some experiments arrive stillborn.