Standing out as a leading figure of the New York avant-garde scene in the second half of the '60s, Burrell quickly established himself as one of the most innovative pianists, collaborating with the emerging leaders in contemporary jazz and joining the groups of Marion Brown, Pharoah Sanders and Archie Shepp. He has played and recorded, among others, with Giuseppi Logan, Sunny Murray, Albert Ayler, Grahan Moncur III, Byard Lancaster, Sirone, Alan Silva, Clifford Thornton, Roscoe Mitchell. Such a fluid and creative “free jazz” season culminated in the partecipation of Burrell and many other prominent musicians in the legendary Pan-African Festival in Algiers and in the historic series of releases of the french labels BYG and America. Even since, Burrell revealed the absolute openness that would cross his entire output: in the broad spectrum of materials and explorations of his records from this period, also the rereading of Giacomo Puccini's arias in Burrell's La Vie de Boheme finds its place.
In the following decades Burrell's music and concepts have evolved and enlarged in many directions, in the piano solo dimension as through a long series of historical collaborations. Constant activity in the avant-garde jazz continuum and continual confrontation with ragtime and jazz piano tradition (Jelly Roll Morton, Ellington, Monk), as well as with popular song and classical music heritage, have always been strongly connected in Burrell's personal style, a combination of composed form and improvised detail that joins past and present in an all-embracing panorama. Along with his long-time membership in Archie Shepp's groups (more than 20 records together), his and Beaver Harris' 360 Degrees Music Experience in the '70s (playing under the motto “from ragtime to no time at all”), the long and intense partnership with tenorist David Murray, and the stable collaborations with tubist Bob Stewart, with Andrew Cyrille and William Parker (Full Blown Trio and other projects), with singer Leena Conquest and in latest years with trombonist Steve Swell and the soprano diva Veronica Chapman-Smith are only some highlights of his career...[more]