Muhal Richard Abrams
Perhaps most widely noted for his contributions to Chicago's Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), pianist/composer Abrams has long been respected by fellow musicians. His recorded output (more than twenty albums) reinforces notions of him as a quiet experimentalist rather than a flashy attention-seeker. Often challenging and cerebral, his compositions draw on a broad historical and stylistic scope -- from Ragtime to modern classical to Free Jazz -- without resorting to superficial pastichery. His large ensemble albums, including Blu, Blu, Blu and One Line, Two Views, may best exemplify what he's all about, showcasing his trademark dense harmonies and thoughtful arrangements, as well as his ability to weave elements of the blues, Swing, Hard Bop and the avant-garde into a cohesive style of his own.