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Tommy Flanagan

Jazz pianist Tommy Flanagan at the Village Jazz Lounge in Walt Disney World
Background information
Birth name Thomas Lee Flanagan
Born 16 March 1930
Origin Detroit, Michigan, USA
Died 16 November 2001
Genres Bop
Hard bop
Mainstream jazz
Occupations Pianist
Instruments Piano
Associated acts Ella Fitzgerald
John Coltrane
Kenny Dorham Quartet

Thomas Lee Flanagan (16 March 1930, – 16 November 2001, New York City) was an American jazz pianist born in Detroit, Michigan,[1] particularly remembered as an accompanist of Ella Fitzgerald.[1]

He played on a number of critically acclaimed recordings, such as John Coltrane's Giant Steps,[1] Sonny Rollins' Saxophone Colossus,[1] The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery, and Art Pepper's Straight Life.



The Tommy Flanagan Trio (with bassist Wilbur Little and drummer Elvin Jones) released their first album, Tommy Flanagan Trio Overseas, in 1957. As an accompanist, Flanagan worked with Ella Fitzgerald from 1963 to 1965 and 1968 to 1978. Beginning in 1975, Flanagan began once again to perform and record as a leader. He continued to work with other players, however, forming a trio with Tal Farlow and Red Mitchell, among other projects.

Flanagan's style was both modest and exceptionally musical. He embodied many of the most important qualities associated with jazz: swing, harmonic sophistication, melodic invention, bluesy feel and humour. Interestingly, he appeared on a number of highly innovative albums. (His awkward solo on the extremely fast and harmonically complex title-track of Giant Steps is a rare [if famous] instance on record of the usually unflappable pianist being caught off-guard.)[2]

Tommy Flanagan is mentioned by Japanese Author Haruki Murakami in the short story, Chance Encounter, in which he describes his experiences at a Tommy Flanagan performance.

During his career, Flanagan was nominated for four Grammy Awards — two for Best Jazz Performance (Group) and two for Best Jazz Performance (Soloist).

He died on 16 November 2001, of an arterial aneurysm.[1]



As leader

As sideman


  1. ^ a b c d e Tommy Flanagan, Elegant Jazz Pianist, Is Dead at 71., By Ben Ratliff
  2. ^ Conquering Giant Steps., By Corey Christiansen

External links


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