Monday, May 02, 2005

Henry Grimes Trio – Live at the Kereva Jazz Festival (Ayler, 2005)

Henry Grimes story is likely to go down in jazz lore for years to come. To briefly summarize an oft-told story, Grimes was a well known bassist on the mainstream and avant-garde scene in the 1960's, touring and recording with the likes of Sonny Rollins and Albert Ayler. Grimes then dropped off the jazz scene, living in California and doing odd jobs for thirty years before being “re-discovered” by a social worker who happened to be a jazz fan. Revitalized, Grimes moved back to New York and with the help of a donated bass, began to play again. This was recorded live at a Finnish jazz festival in 2004 and Grimes is joined by David Murray on tenor saxophone and bass clarinet and Hamid Drake in drums and percussion.

Things really come off quite well. The group opens with two lengthy twenty minute plus improvisations, which allow all of the members of the group to branch out individually as well as improvising as a unit. Grimes sounds fine, very percussive, pushing the music along with Drake's polyryhtyms. David Murray is well... David Murray, you either love him (like me) or hate him. Regardless, Grimes and Drake spur Murray along to some of his most spirited music in some time, hearkening back to his days as an avant-garde firebrand in the 1970's. But where 70's Murray was apt to get a little too wild for his own good in his early years, his playing here shows respect for Grimes and also the wisdom that maturity can bring.

The crowd is behind the trio 100% and erupts after the second lengthy piece, calling the band out for a couple of shorter encores including Murray's classic “Flowers for Albert.” This was as successful a comeback as could have been expected for Henry Grimes and the group has an excellent sound. Hopefully he will continue to get the support of the musicians and the fans – who says Americans have no second acts?

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