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Muhal Richard Abrams' 'SoundPath' Out November 20th 

Released by Warriors of the Wonderful Sound.

Muhal Richard Abrams' 'SoundPath' Out November 20th 

Lauded alto saxophonist, composer, and bandleader Bobby Zankel has lived in Philadelphia since 1975 and his reputation as one of the city's brightest lights in jazz and creative music is thoroughly cemented. After years of working with Cecil Taylor, Odean Pope, Jymie Merritt, Sunny Murray, Marilyn Crispell, and other luminaries, his main focus over the last 20 years has been the Warriors of the Wonderful Sound, a large ensemble that features some of Philadelphia's best musicians. While the band began as a vehicle for Zankel's own compositions, the emphasis has evolved to include commissioned works by notable composers like Rudresh Mahanthappa and Steve Coleman, and sometimes performances by featured guest artists - such as Rene Mclean, David Murray, Oliver Lake, Dave Burrell, Steve Lehman, Don Byron, and Dave Liebman, among others.

In 2012, Zankel fulfilled a long-standing dream of his and commissioned a piece from the legendary pianist, composer, and NEA Jazz Master Muhal Richard Abrams for his Warriors, which resulted in the staggering suite SoundPath, now set to be released on vinyl and CD by Clean Feed & Ars Nova Workshop on November 20, 2020.

Throughout the piece, Abrams' brilliant writing interfaces seamlessly with staggering improvisational segments - mutually framing each other - creating a whole that transcends the sum of its parts. Zankel remarks in the album's liner notes, "[Abrams'] musical worlds present an open-ended range of creative engagements," all of which are distinctly suited for the myriad personalities in this iteration of the Warriors.

In conjunction with his decades-long career as an innovative pianist and composer, Abrams - who passed away in 2017 at the age of 87 - is known in equal measure as the founder of the estimable Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), an organization formed in Chicago in the 1960s that spurred on the careers of a host of notable geniuses of 20th/21st-century music: Anthony Braxton, Roscoe Mitchell, Wadada Leo Smith, Henry Threadgill, George Lewis. Abrams was the catalyst for their creative explorations, and he fostered a stimulating, invigorating environment for the musicians to explore and define a wholly idiosyncratic language and aesthetic. At Abrams' insistence, and following his paradigm, original composition became the focus for musicians of the AACM.

Abrams carried that irrepressible spirit of originality close to him until the end of his life, and SoundPath is emblematic of many aspects of his oeuvre: an uncompromising sense of self, an (at times) almost romantic melodic sensibility, a deeply felt groove, and an omnipresent exploratory disposition. Zankel remarked on these various facets in Abrams' work by saying, "The balance between the rigorous, demanding, and beautiful composed sections with the endless variety of improvisational approaches Muhal employed to open up the music was a continual revelation."

Photo Credit: Michael Hoefner


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