Although the bassoon had been used in jazz on a rare basis since Don Redman and Frankie Trumbauer in the 1920s, Michael Rabinowitz is the first jazz musician ever to specialize on the difficult instrument. He played clarinet in junior high school but switched to bassoon in high school. He played locally in New Haven, studied with Sal Mosca, and after college spent two years in Europe. Upon his return, he recorded on part of an Ira Sullivan Muse record (1981) and with Eddie Buster. Rabinowitz moved to New York in 1986, was part of the avant-garde group Mosaic in 1988, and performed Charles Mingus' "Epitaph" with Gunther Schuller in 1989. Michael Rabinowitz led his own groups throughout the 1990s, showing on quartet recordings for Cats Paw and Jazz Focus that the bassoon can effectively assume the role of an improvising saxophonist.