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Muhal Richard Abrams: SoundDance: Duos With Fred Anderson and George Lewis

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SoundDance is a momentous release several times over. It marks the 80th birthday of the great pianist/composer Muhal Richard Abrams and the sad passing last year of his AACM friend and colleague, tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson, with whom he had rarely recorded since their emergence nearly 50 years ago in Chicago. The two-disc set also reunites Abrams and AACM trombonist/laptopper George Lewis, last heard together on Streaming (2006) with Roscoe Mitchell.

For all they signify, the two live, improvised sets on SoundDance are full of disarming invention and low-key charm. On “Focus, ThruTime … Time,” Anderson responds to Abrams’ open, ruminative phrasing, which splits the difference between free-jazz and modern-classical styles, with some of his sprightliest playing. Departing his signature earth tones for floating, tightly knit melodies, he imbues his side of the conversation with a lilting sense of well-being. After decades of being criminally under-recorded, Anderson made some strong collaborative albums in his 70s; among them, his duo efforts with drummers Robert Barry and Hamid Drake were extra-special. This set adds to that legacy.

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