He owns the Tzadik record label and has worked with a large number of experimental musicians, particularly in improvised music, modern classical music and jazz, though he has produced music in most styles. As a child, he played piano, guitar and flute. He went to college in St. Louis where he discovered free jazz, before dropping out and moving to Manhattan. There he gave concerts in his small apartment, playing a variety of reeds, duck calls, tapes, etc; almost anything. In the mid 1980s he signed to the Elektra Nonesuch label. Since then, he has released a very large number of records, usually putting out several each year.