Thomas Lee Flanagan (16 March 1930, â€“ â€ 16 November 2001, New York City) was an American jazz pianist born in Detroit, Michigan, particularly remembered as an accompanist of Ella Fitzgerald. He played on a number of critically acclaimed recordings, such as John Coltrane's Giant Steps, Sonny Rollins' Saxophone Colossus, 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 1963â€“65 and 1968â€“78. But 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.)