Except for a brief period of study at Chicago Musical College and Governors State University in Chicago, Illinois, where he studied electronic music, Muhal Richard Abrams is predominately a self-taught musician who, as a result of many years of observation, analysis and practice as a performing musician, has developed a highly respected command of a variety of musical styles both as a pianist and composer. The versatile Mr. Abrams and members of The Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), of which he is co-founder, are responsible for some of the most original new music approaches of the last two decades.
Some recent compositions of Mr. Abrams include Transversion I Op. 6 for symphony orchestra, NOVI for symphony orchestra and jazz quartet, and Variations for solo saxophone, flute and chamber orchestra. His Quintet for soprano voice, piano, harp, cello and violin was commissioned by The Kitchen and performed at Symphony Space in April, 1982, and his String Quartet #2 was performed by The Kronos Quartet on November 22, 1985, at the Carnagie Recital Hall in New York City. Further recent works include What A Man , commissioned for the Black Repertory Ensemble by the Center for Black Music Research, Columbia College Chicago and the Friends of the Chicago Public Library in honor of the Late Mayor Harold Washington and to commemorate the opening of The Harold Washington Library on October 7, 1991.
Muhal Richard Abrams' catalogue of recordings is a long list indeed, including recordings on Delmark, Arista Novus and Black Saint Records. His musical affiliations is a "who's who" of the jazz world, including Max Roach, Dexter Gordon, Art Farmer, Sonny Stitt, Anthony Braxton, The Art Ensemble of Chicago, Eddie Harris and many others.
Mr. Abrams has taught privately for over twenty years, and has also taught jazz composition and improvisation classes at the Banff Center in Banff, Canada, Columbia University in New York City, the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, and the BMI Composers Workshop in New York City. In addition to being the co-founder of the AACM, he is the founder of the AACM School of Music, and President of the AACM, New York Chapter.