Don Pullen developed a surprisingly accessible way of performing avant-garde jazz. Although he could be quite free harmonically, with dense, dissonant chords, Pullen also utilized catchy rhythms, so even his freest flights generally had a handle for listeners to hang on to. The combination of freedom and rhythm gave him his own unique musical personality. Pullen, who came from a musical family, studied with Muhal Richard Abrams (with whom he played in the Experimental Band) and, in 1964, made his recording debut with Giuseppi Logan. In the 1960s, he recorded free duets with Milford Graves, led his own bands, and played organ with R&B groups, backing Big Maybelle and Ruth Brown, among others. Although he worked with Nina Simone (1970-1971) and Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers (1974), Pullen became famous as the pianist with Charles Mingus' ...
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