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Tommy Flanagan

Biography

In the world of Bop, there are stars and there are stalwarts -- noble sidemen who may play a hundred sessions a year, but almost never lead their own bands. Pianist Tommy Flanagan has worn both hats in his lengthy career. He's played alongside almost everyone, but his own brand of delicate and sophisticated Bop has led to considerable success as a soloist and bandleader. Flanagan's career duality began in 1957 with the release of three albums. In the 1960s, however, he played the role of accompanist almost exclusively, backing up singers Ella Fitzgerald and Tony Bennett. The rebirth of Flanagan's solo career in 1975 gave him room to branch out from straight-ahead Bop and into both modal Post Bop and free improvisation. Yet as he looked forward, he also looked back toward the music's origins, recording an album of Harold Arlen standards, as well as a tribute to Charlie Parker.
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