|A fantastic discovery! Vision Towards Essence is an incredible document of pianist Muhal Richard Abrams in a live solo performance in front of an enthusiastic audience at the 1998 Guelph Jazz Festival in Canada. The performance found Abrams at the peak of his powers, playing an uninterrupted sixty-minute fully improvised piece, and this release is an unedited, full account of that performance.
Abrams is perhaps best known as the founder of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), the organization from which sprung such luminaries as Anthony Braxton, The Art Ensemble of Chicago, and Henry Threadgill. Though Abrams has composed for everything from duos to big bands, and is currently working on a commissioned piece for full symphony orchestra, he has said that the solo improvised performance is the pinnacle of his art. Each solo performance forces him to extemporaneously draw on his wellspring of experience and intuition. The performance on Vision Towards Essence veers between passages of all-out power and the delicately mesmerizing. Without chord changes or vamps to fall back on, it represents the height of spontaneous artistic invention.
Pi Recordings’ last release featuring Muhal Richard Abrams, Streaming, was a 2006 Critics Pick for JazzTimes, Time Out New York, and Village Voice, and was a New York Times Critics Choice pick. Vision Towards Essence is Abrams’ first solo piano release since 1978’s long out-of-print Spiral on Arista Novus. George Lewis will publish his highly anticipated history of the AACM in Fall 2007. The book will likely rekindle a great deal of interest in the AACM, and in the role Abrams played in its development.
“Hugely influential, Abrams is one of the most important catalytic forces in contemporary jazz and improvisation.” — Penguin Guide to Jazz
“A venerable pianist and composer.” — Nate Chinen, New York Times