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Tommy Flanagan Dies at 71

Tommy Flanagan, a pianist who set new standards for taste, virtuosity and creativity in mainstream postwar jazz, died Nov. 16 at a hospital in Manhattan from an arterial aneurysm. He was 71.

Flanagan was born on Mar. 16, 1930, the youngest of six children in the beautiful and musically fertile city of Detroit, Mich. His parents loved jazz, and encouraged young Tommy’s efforts in the area; he began taking clarinet lessons at age 6, and moved to the piano at age 11. Hearing Art Tatum perform live in 1945 reinforced his desire to become a jazz pianist, and he made his professional debut the same year, at the tender age of 15.

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