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Muhal Richard Abrams lectures at the University of Connecticut.

 Digital Record


  • 1983-04-05



Composer and pianist Muhal Richard Abrams lectured April 5, 1983 at the University of Connecticut (2015-0002/RR97).

Biographical / Historical

Muhal Richard Abrams was a pianist and composer who was active in Chicago and New York City for over 40 years. Born on 19 September 1930 in Chicago, Illinois, Abrams attended the Governors State University, in the late 1940s and studied piano at the Chicago Musical College for four years. He has played, arranged, and composed for musicians King Fleming, Walter Perkins, Miles Davis, Max Roach, Sonny Rollins, Johnny Griffin, and Eddie Harris for the first twenty years of his career. In 1961, Abrams helped to form the Experimental Band, one the earliest free-jazz groups. In 1965, Abrams was instrumental in founding the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians; he served as its first president. During his time as an administrator, Abrams encouraged young musicians to study the history of jazz and also to experiment with new forms. As a result of his encouragement, Abrams had a deep influence on Lester Bowie, Anthony Braxton, and George Lewis.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s Abrams continued to perform frequently, usually with important avant-garde musicians. Due to tours in Europe, Abrams became more internationally known which led to numerous commissions and awards. In the 1990s Abrams continued to perform often and recorded occasionally. Abrams’s works as a pianist reflects his interest in music of many genres, among them stride piano (especially the music of James P. Johnson), free jazz, and 20th-century art music. He died October 29, 2017.

(African American National Biography, accessed June 29, 2015, via Oxford African American Studies Center database. NYTimes Obituary, accessed Nov 3, 2017)

Existence and Location of Originals

Original audio recordings reside in the University of Connecticut, Black Experience in the Arts Collection, Archives & Special Collections, UConn Library.

Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Special Collections, University of Connecticut Library Repository

University of Connecticut Library
405 Babbidge Road Unit 1205
Storrs Connecticut 06269-1205 USA US