An avant-garde Jazz pioneer who began his career in the 1950s after graduating from the New England Conservatory of Music. Known for his lengthy, complex improvisations and breathtaking piano technique.

Perhaps the piano virtuoso of the 20th Century, a middle-class kid from Long Island who suffered many years of post-conservatory poverty (and public apathy) while shaping his art. In the early days (the 50's), sidemen like Steve Lacy tried to come to grips with his music; in the 60's, he found like-minded players for his groups (and could ditch the familiar reference points of Cole Porter and Thelonious Monk tunes). In the 70's, he taught a new generation of improvisors via academe.

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