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Happy Birthday Muhal Richard Abrams

Chuck Nessa

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Muhal came and visited my last year at Mills-I managed a one-on-one with him, and it totally changed my life. He had me playing "Crepuscule with Nellie" a second after I got plugged in. The open-form stuff we did that day was some of the best music I've played in my life; Muhal has a tremendous, and at this point quite storied, way of relaxing tensions and extracting from those around him the very best of feelings and talent. I may have mentioned this somewhere before, but with the brief time I spent with him, I really, really learned a lot. The amazing thing was that every one of the dozens of other students and itinerant musicians who got to meet and spend time with Muhal that week came away with much the same reaction...

That Roscoe/Muhal duet concert that closed the week--that was something else. The tapes are stuck somewhere at Mills--that is, until the department can scrape together the time and funds to put together a "live from Mills" series (when that will be, who knows... but there is a treasure trove of music logged in there).

I'll be listening to the Braxton/Muhal Arista duets, maybe The Hearinga Suite--there's so much. What's amazing about Muhal's discography is that it's so big, and he has this uncanny ability to get top-drawer players to reach for their best (hence the consummate quality of these recordings)...

Happy B-Day! (And earlier I bought a birthday card for my Dad. Happy returns for great men.)

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Yes, happy birthday. I miss seeing Muhal Richard Abrams in person, as I did many times in the 70's and 80's. His fairly recent trio record with Lewis and Mitchell on Pi is astounding, and I'm rediscovering his 70's work with Braxton on the Mosaic box set. He is the leader of a musical revolution that began in the 60's and is too little known today. Simply too many great recordings to list them all, but a special remembrance is due to a concert with Hamiett Bluiett at Environ. An unforgettable evening.

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  • 11 months later...

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