November 1, 2017
The Chicago pianist and co-founder of the AACM changed the game for independent jazz musicians.
Jazz pianist, educator and scholar Muhal Richard Abrams has died aged 87, Chicago Tribune reports.
Abrams was an accomplished pianist who was among a generation of musicians pushing the boundaries of the avant garde jazz form, releasing close to 30 albums during a fifty year career, and recording alongside the likes of Kenny Dorham, Art Ensemble of Chicago and Jack DeJohnette.
His lasting legacy however was as co-founder of Chicago’s AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians). Launched in 1965, the non-profit organization sought to champion and support independent jazz musicians in the city.
Alongside Phil Cohran, who also passed away earlier this year, pianist Jodie Christian, and drummer Steve McCall, Abrams was influential in creating an organisation that would forge new structures for collective composition and improvisation, as well as revolutionizing the ways in which black musicians could take economic ownership over their work.
Providing a platform to artists like Cohran, Art Ensemble of Chicago and Anthony Braxton, the AACM became one of the era’s most important organizations, united under the motto, “Great Black Music: Ancient to the Future.”
Muhal Richard Abrams died on Sunday 29th October at his home in New York.