Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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FLANAGAN, Tommy

(b 16 March '30, Detroit MI; d 16 Nov. 2001, NYC) Piano, also other instruments. He made his pro debut with Dexter Gordon, '45; to NYC '56, first accompanied Ella Fitzgerald that summer, many times since including a tour of Japan '60s. He also accompanied Tony Bennett and was often with Fitzgerald again after '68. He worked with all the best musicians; in a Greenwich Village duo with bassist Wilbur Little '73-4 (b 5 March '28, Parmele NC); recorded with J. J. Johnson, Milt Jackson, Wes Montgomery, Roy Haynes, Art Farmer, John Coltrane (Giant Steps '59), Coleman Hawkins (Today And Now '63), Booker Ervin (The Song Book '64); with Ella: In London, Live At Carnegie Hall, Montreux '75; Dizzy Gillespie Big 7 at Montreux '75, many more. His own albums always yielded tasty results, including The Cats '57 (Prestige sextet session with Coltrane, later reissued under his name), Jazz -- It's Magic '57 quintet on Savoy; solo piano Alone Too Long '77 on Denon; duo-piano sets Our Delights '78 with Hank Jones on Galaxy, Together '78 with Kenny Barron on Denon; duos with bassists Ballads And Blues '78 on Enja (with George Mraz, b 9 Sep. '44, Czechoslavakia; to USA late '60s), You're Me '80 on Phontastic (with Red Mitchell). The two-disc Columbia albums I Remember Bebop and They All Played Bebop had several tracks by Flanagan with Keeter Betts on bass '77 (several other pianists also featured). Trio albums with Elvin Jones, Connie Kay, Jimmy Smith, Haynes, Ron Carter, Reg Workman, Richard Davis, Betts, many others: Trio Overseas '57 on Prestige; Lonely Town '59 on Blue Note; Tommy Flanagan Trio '60 on Moodsville; Positive Intensity '76 on Sony/CBS (same as Trinity on Inner City); Plays The Music of Harold Arlen c'80 on Inner City; Tokyo Festival '75 and Montreux '77 on Pablo; Super Jazz Trio '78 on RCA; Something Borrowed, Something Blue '78 on Galaxy; Communication '79 on Paddle Wheel; The Magnificent on Progressive; Eclypso '77, Super Session '80, Giant Steps and Thelonica '82 all on Enja; The Master Trio and Blues In The Closet '83 on Japanese label Baybridge. Jazz Poet '89, Beyond The Blue Bird '90 were on Timeless; he won the Danish Jazzpar award '93, recorded Flanagan's Shenanigans with the trio and the Jazzpar Windtet. Trio Sea Changes '96 on Evidence with regulars Peter Washington (bass) and Lewis Nash (drums) reprised tunes from Overseas '57 with Jones and Little.