Tommy Flanagan

Tommy Flanagan

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November 16, 2001 (Age 71) died

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March 16, 1930 Birthday

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Detroit, Michigan, U.S. Birthplace


Tommy Flanagan was a world renown jazz pianist and composer. Known as much for his easy friendliness as his stellar playing, Flanagan was a first call pianist for jazz's biggest stars. After playing with greats such as John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins, Flanagan went on to become Ella Fitzgerald's accompanist and music director for many years. Later he formed his own trio producing a string of critically acclaimed recordings.


Flanagan's first instrument was a clarinet, which he received as a Christmas present when he was 6 years old.During his career Flanagan was nominated for 5 Grammy Awards.According to critic Leonard Feather, Flanagan is the pianist most likely to be named by other jazz pianists as a personal idol.

Early Life

Tommy Flanagan was born in Detroit in 1930, the youngest of six children. He began playing piano as a child and started playing gigs while still a teenager. He became the pianist in residence at Detroit's famed Blue Bird Inn in 1949. After a short stint in the Army Flanagan moved to New York in 1956 with his good friend Kenny Burrell and quickly found work in clubs and studios.