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Label: Pi Recordings
Catalog ID: PI 23
Squidco Product Code: 8522
Packaging: Jewel Tray
Recorded live at the Guelph Festival, Guelph, Canada, September 11, 1998.
Muhal Richard Abrams-solo piano
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1. Part 1 20:06
2. Part 2 18:23
3. Part 3 20:16
Related Categories of Interest:
Piano & Keyboards
Art Ensemble of Chicago
Staff Picks & Recommended Items
Chicago Jazz & Improvisation
Solo Artist Recordings
descriptions, reviews, &c.
Vision Towards Essence captures Muhal Richard Abrams live at the peak of his powers, performing solo in front of an enthusiastic audience at the 1998 Guelph Jazz Festival in Canada. This incredible recording captures an unedited account of a continuous sixty-minute, fully improvised performance. Though Abrams has composed for everything from duos to big band and is currently working on a commission for symphony orchestra, he claims that the extemporaneous solo performance, which draws on his full wellspring of experience and intuition, is the pinnacle of his art. Vision Towards Essence veers between passages of all out power and the delicately mesmerizing; it is the height of spontaneous artistic invention.
Abrams has been one of the most influential musicians in jazz for over 45 years. He led the Experimental Band, which included Roscoe Mitchell and Jack DeJohnette, in the early 1960s and subsequently, was a co-founder of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) in 1965. That organization, which has played a crucial role in the development of experimental jazz, has produced such distinguished members as Anthony Braxton, the members of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Leo Smith, Leroy Jenkins and Henry Threadgill. Abrams's importance to the organization will be well documented in composer, trombonist and historian George Lewis's book, A Power Stronger than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music, to be published this fall by the University of Chicago Press.
Abrams has released over 25 recordings as a leader, led innumerable groups, and composed works for such major performing groups as the Detroit Philharmonic, the Brooklyn Philharmonic and the Kronos Quartet. Since the performance captured on Vision Towards Essence, Abrams has continued his busy performing and composing schedule. Yet his recorded output in the last ten years has been sparse - it includes only The Visibility of Thought (Mutable Music), which includes a fine solo piano performance by Abrams but mostly features his compositions as performed by others; and Streaming (Pi 22), an improvising trio with AACM stalwarts George Lewis and Roscoe Mitchell. Listening to Vision Towards Essence reminds us that Abrams is not just a great conceptualist and bandleader, but an amazing performer whose solo piano playing compares favorably to all others who practice this difficult art."-Pi Recordings
• Show Bio for Muhal Richard Abrams
"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. In 2009 Muhal was selected to be a USA Prudential Fellow by United States Artist. In 2010 Mr. Abrams was inducted into the Downbeat Magazine "Jazz Hall of Fame". Also, in 2010 Mr. Abrams was chosen by the National Endowment for the Arts to be a NEA Jazz Master. On May 16, 2012, Muhal received the degree of Doctor of Music, honoris causa, from Columbia University, New York City. Also, on October 19, 2012, the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation presented Dr. Abrams with The BNY Mellon Jazz Living Legacy Award at The Kennedy Center, Washington, D. C.
Except for a brief period of study at Chicago Musical College and Governors State University in Chicago, Illinois where he studied electronic music, Dr. 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 Dr. Abrams and members of The AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians) are responsible for some of the most original new music approaches of the last four decades.
Some of Dr. Abrams' compositions are: "String Quartet #2" performed by Kronos 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, "Saturation Blue" performed on March 14, 1986, by The Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra Chamber Ensemble, "Folk Tales 88'" performed by The Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra on July 9, 1988, "Transversion I OP. 6" performed February 22 & 23, 1991 by The Detroit Symphony Orchestra, "What A Man" commissioned and performed by the Black Repertory Ensemble in behalf of the Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College and The Friends of the Chicago Public Library in honor of the Late Mayor Harold Washington and to commemorate the opening of the Honorable Harold Washington Library on October 7, 1991; "Duet for Violin and Piano", commissioned by the McKim Fund in the Library of Congress, 1996; "Impressions 1" performed by the SEM Ensemble, 1997, "2000 Plus The Twelfth Step" performed by the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, 1999. "Tomorrow's Song, As Yesterday Sings Today" performed by the American Composers Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in New York City, 2000. "Mergertone" performed by the Janacek Philharmonic Orchestra, in Ostrava, Czech Republic, 2009.
In addition to teaching privately, Dr. Abrams has taught composition and improvisation classes at the Banff Center in Canada, Columbia University in New York City, Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York, the New England Conservatory in Boston, Mass, the BMI composers workshop in New York City, and the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland."-AkaMu (http://www.akamu.net/muhal/biography.htm)
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