It was once written in the New York Times by jazz columnist Peter Watrous, “If Abraham Burton were to be drawn in a caricature, there would be flames coming out of his horn…” Approaching three decades as a prominent figure on the jazz scene, world-renowned saxophonist and educator Abraham Burton’s passionate sound can still ignite a room filled with patrons. Abraham Burton has been showcased as a soloist on two Grammy award-winning albums and a featured musician on more than one hundred recordings. Throughout his career Abraham has performed and recorded with numerous contemporaries as well as legendary jazz artists including Rashid Ali, Kenny Barron, Walter Bishop Jr., James Carter, Michael Carvin, Santi Debriano, Rein de Graaff, Roy Hargrove, Louis Hayes, Roy Haynes, John Hicks,Terumasa Hino, Yosuke Inoue, Victor Lewis, Harold Mabern, Christian McBride, Jackie McLean, Mulgrew Miller, Lawrence “Butch” Morris, David Murray, Steve Nelson, Nicholas Payton, Alvin Queen, Larry Ridley, Wallace Roney, Jimmy Smith, Horace Tapscott, Arthur Taylor,Kenny Washington, David Williams and Jimmy Woode.
Born and raised in Greenwich Village, the “mecca” of jazz, Abraham’s
interest in music was sparked by the many pioneers on the New York
scene. At an early age, Abraham frequented neighborhood jazz clubs
as a “rodey” for drummer Freddie Waits. Abraham became personally
acquainted with many popular jazz artists like Richard Davis, Billy
Higgins, Elvin Jones, Max Roach, Billy Harper and his first private
teacher Bill Saxton. Abraham attributes a large portion of his musical
concept and his education to the years spent with the master
musicians he met as a youngster.
Determined to further explore the jazz idiom, Abraham attended
Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & the Performing Arts,
under the tutelage of head jazz instructor Justin Dicioccio. Abraham
was chosen by Dicioccio to be the alto man in an all-star quintet,
which was awarded best jazz combo by Downbeat Magazine. In
addition, Abraham received an award for outstanding soloist. In the
same year Abraham won the McDonald’s Jazz Combo Competition in
By this time, Abraham had met his idol, saxophonist Jackie McLean,
with whom he began an apprenticeship and an enduring mentorship.
Over the next few years, McLean encouraged Abraham to continue his
studies at the Hartt School of Music. Abraham spent four years under
the watchful eyes of Jackie McLean studying the saxophone with an
emphasis on Jazz history. In 1993 Abraham received his Bachelors
Degree in Music and Performance, graduating with honors.
Abraham's professional career initiated with master drummer Arthur
Taylor. As a “Wailer," Abraham recorded on the albums "Mr. A.T."
and "Live at the Village Vanguard.” Abraham began touring throughout
Europe and performing at popular New York jazz clubs including The
Village Vanguard, Blue Note, Sweet Basil, Condon’s and Birdland.
Abraham also began performing with his own dynamic group, “The
Abraham Burton Quartet.” The collective has been featured at venues
and festivals worldwide including the North Sea Jazz Festival, Jazz a
Juan, Moors Jazz Festival, Seixal Jazz Festival and the Pori Jazz
Festival. The Band has also recorded a notable collection of albums
under Abraham’s leadership.
Additionally, Abraham has been a part of the Mingus family for two
decades, performing globally in all three ensembles The Mingus Big
Band, Mingus Dynasty and the Mingus Orchestra. Furthermore
Abraham has been active on the jazz scene collaborating with many of
today’s icons such as Lucian Ban, David Bryant, Marc Cary, Steve
Davis, Dezron Douglas, Duane Eubanks, Josh Evans, Joe Farnsworth,
John Hebert, Freddie Hendrix, James Hurt, Eric McPherson, Nat
Reeves, and Nasheet Waits.
In recent years, Abraham’s interest has broadened to teaching and
sharing his musical knowledge and experience with future generations.
In 2013 Abraham was awarded the prestigious Ralph Bunche
Fellowship at Rutgers University where he received his Masters Degree
in Music. Abraham also has joined the faculty at both the Jackie
McLean institute of Jazz (University of Hartford) and Rutgers University
where his classes are in high demand.
Musically, Abraham continues to explore unchartered territories while
devoting time to teach and inspire future generations, passing forward
the infinite torch of jazz.