It's time for this weekend's tribute to the recently fallen. I meant to do this one last Sunday, but something happened to postpone it. I forget what it was.
This heroic figure of our age passed away at the end of October, at the advanced wisdom number of 87.
His long and central Jazz career featured many highlights with many epochal players, but it's the organization he founded to help assist those musicians in plying their craft for which he will always be remembered.
This organization was called the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians -- the AACM -- and since he started it in Chicago in the mid-1960s it has produced and elevated to prominence some of our era's most essential music and creators.
From the Art Ensemble of Chicago to Anthony Braxton to Henry Threadgill to Jack DeJohnette, plus a whole host of others, the AACM orbit has enriched our world with 50 years and counting of the most adventurous sounds.
It all started in 1965, when the loss of popularity of Jazz to the emerging Rock culture caused musicians to begin to take stock.
One of those musicians was today's honoree, whose idea was to form a central location from which players and composers could draw sustenance and support from each other.
Beginning in 1969, he organized an education program for Chicago's inner-city youth, the first such musical resource center of its kind.
Lives like his typically don't get recognized, but they do as much if not more to advance cultural causes in our world as the more widely-regarded superstars do, even if we don't know their names.
Today we celebrate one of those lives: that of Muhal Richard Abrams, pianist, composer, teacher and cultural force of the last half century.
To do just that, I have clouded a sweet duo performance of MRA, in tandem with bassist Rufus Reid, on National Public Radio in 1984. This is sourced from a master cassette, pristinely captured on a Nakamichi deck, at the time of the original broadcast.
Muhal Richard Abrams & Rufus Reid
William Paterson College
02 Blue Monk
03 A Child Is Born
04 March of the Transients
06 Charlie In the Parker
Total time: 1:00:27
Muhal Richard Abrams - piano
Rufus Reid - bass
master cassette of an original NPR broadcast
312 MB FLAC/December 2017 archive link
This is such an elegant and beautiful set, with Muhal and Rufus laying down six post-bop gems, including an excursion through Blue Monk and a reading of the man's signature composition, March of the Transients. Pull it on down and enjoy, and as you do remember to appreciate Muhal Richard Abrams, who during his 87 years brought a unique and necessary spirit of cooperation and edification to the musical landscape of our world.--J.
9.19.1930 - 10.29.2017