RIP Muhal Richard Abrams – What he meant to me by Chico Freeman

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RIP Muhal Richard Abrams

1)    when did you first met with Muhal?
a.    I met Muhal right after I graduated from Northwestern University in Evanston Illinois after the suggestion by Fred Anderson.

2)    have you ever played with his experimental band?
a.    Yes, I did play with his Experimental Big Band. I first began studying composition with him and then soon after I joined his big band.

3)    how about other opportunities to play with him?
a.    I played with a number of his small group projects during my time in Chicago as a member of the AACM.

4)    how did he most influence over you personally and musically?
a.    He was a great influence on me from a musical perspective as well as a life and character perspective. He was a very wise man with high integrity and strong morals. He was my mentor, teacher and my friend.

5)    what do you think is the most specific?
a.    He was a true individual who believed in the truth and living by that code of honesty in his day to day life. His search for truth in himself and others fueled his music and his life.

6)    characteristics in his music?
a.    Originality
b.    Honesty
c.     Heart
d.    Imagination
e.    Fortitude
f.      Love

7)     what is your relationship with him?
a.    Mentor
b.    Teacher
c.     Advisor
d.    Friend
e.    Confidant
f.      And so much more.

Polonius: This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.

This was the essence of the life of Muhal Richard Abrams, husband, father, mentor, friend, pianist, composer and teacher. He was wise, kind and honest.

I remember once when I accompanied him to a lecture/workshop where he shared his knowledge without restraint. I was wondering why he did this; give away what I thought were his professional secrets as I believed that many artists held what they knew very close to their vest. I confronted him and with some consternation asked why? His response was: “If I deny any part of myself, I deny the truth”.

He lived his life this way, shielded and protected by the truth and his continued search for the same. It was great fortune for me the day that Fred Anderson told me about Muhal Richard Abrams and suggested that I contact him. I did and he became my teacher, mentor, friend and opened the door for me to become part of his family with his wife Peggy and his daughter Richarda.

I will be forever grateful and honored that he came into my life.

1949.7.17 シカゴの伝説的なサックス奏者ヴォン・フリ—マンの息子として生まれる。幼少の頃からピアノとトランペットを学び、ノースウェスタン大学3年の時に数学から音楽に専攻を変更、サックスに転向した。卒業後、AACM音楽学校で教鞭を執りながら、ガヴァナーズ州立大学で院生として作曲と理論を学ぶ。1976年、日本のWhyNotレーベルから『Morning Prayer』でレコード・レヴュー。1981年、『Outside Within』でNYジャズ賞、ステレオ・レヴュー誌「年間最優秀アルバム賞」を受賞。その後、メインストリームから中南米系、エレクトリック、ソウルなど様々なジャンルで多彩な活動を展開している。1999年、NYのニュースクール大学に教師として着任。

*Muhal Richard Abrams の楽曲<Two over One>を収録したChicoのアルバム。