Muhal Richard Abrams: Song for All

It seems we’re in the midst of a veritable explosion of Muhal Richard Abrams recordings, what with his ongoing relationships with both the Black Saint and New World labels. No lightweight indeed, Muhal is an artist who certainly lives up to the mantle of composer. Many of his pieces bear the feeling of being nearly through-composed, despite the obvious breadth and depth of the room for improvisation he leaves for his players. Song For All is a program of eight Abrams originals for septet, with his graceful daughter Richarda added to the cast for an opening recitation and vocal on the title track.

Muhal’s compositions often blossom from opening duets, generally featuring himself and one of the horns, a la the clever and swinging “Over The Same Over,” the leader coupling with Craig Harris’ trombone for the intro. The septet, as opposed to the orchestral forays of his recent recorded output, provides more room for Abrams’ pungent piano work, particularly so on “Over” and “GMBR.” Abrams’ touch is nimble and he has a way of spinning tales with his solos that is often elusive to the more highly touted youngsters on the scene.