Thursday, May 7, 2020

Milford Graves - 1977 - Babi

Milford Graves

101. Bä 11:16
102. Bi 3:55
103. Bäbi 15:17

Bonus tracks on Corbett Vs. Dempsey CD release
201. 1969 Trio 1 28:40
202. 1969 Trio 2 12:44
203. 1969 Trio 3 8:24
204. 1969 Trio 4 6:58

Percussion – Milford Graves
Reeds – Arthur Doyle
Reeds – Hugh Glover

CD 1 recorded ... March 20, 1976 at WBAI-FM/Free Music Store, New York.
CD 2 recorded December 14, 1969, in New York City.

The original tapes for 'Bäbi' were lost, so the reissue was culled from unplayed copies of the LP, expertly transferred and noise-reduced by Alex Inglizian.
Thanks to Scott Nielsen for his turntable, tonearm and cartridge.
This releases is under exclusive license from Milford Graves.

After the death of John Coltrane in the summer of 1967, various tensions and undercurrents in the music he championed during his last two years came to varied heads. Each recorded document captured a moment in the tempestuous history that gained significant momentum with Ornette Coleman’s prophetically named Free Jazz and We Insist: Freedom Now, courtesy of Max Roach and Abbey Lincoln, both dropped on a relatively unprepared public in 1960. Milford Graves’s debt to the Coltrane Classic Quartet, especially to fellow drummer Elvin Jones, is well documented, but Bäbi finds the master percussionist inhabiting even thornier territory nearly 10 years beyond Coltrane’s passing. The album was released in 1977 on Graves’s own IPS label and has now, finally, received the reissue treatment it so richly deserves. The original 1976 live recordings are augmented by a 1969 home session, previously unheard, and the results burn with all their original intensity, shedding light on a history whose multifarious course is still achieving historical clarity.
The 1976 music itself demonstrates advance, gaining an inventive fluency less evident in those pioneering forays of the middle and late 1960s. Following an announcement, the “free jazz” slow build is eschewed as ideas whirl in rapid-fire flux, but there’s another aesthetic at work. Sudden cutoffs plunge the energetic rhetoric into an even more highly charged uncertainly that the word “silence” would stain by understating its import. These are instances not so much of reflection but of anticipatory austerity, a subversion of the energy-music narrative that is both welcome and more unnerving than the intensity framing them. Reedsmen Hugh Glover and Arthur Doyle reinvent trope after trops associated with “fire music”’s power, and once the high dynamics are accepted, the many colors on their sonic pallets swim into glorious focus.
The album is recorded in such a way that movement in space is palpable. The reedsmen especially engage in a kind of stereophonic counterpoint composed of raw timbre with Graves at the center. Not so the 1969 rehearsal comprising the second disc of this reissue, which is recorded in what might be called inglorious mono. Who cares? There is no overestimating the historical importance of this hour’s documentation of the trio in an earlier stage of development. The group is at liberty to stretch, which they do, and while the instruments can be a little more difficult to discern, I do hear some bass clarinet in the mix as well as a few sounds that might actually be described as beautifully sensual if not necessarily pitched. Glover and Doyle accomplish the nearly impossible task of crafting an instrumental vocabulary independent of the towering influence of bebop and Coltrane, and it is a wonder to hear them in action.
Then, there is the phenomenon called Milford Graves. If his myriad accomplishments were simply explained by his modification of the standard drum kit, they would scarcely be worth documenting. Combine the rhythmic intrigue of Elvin Jones with the timbral implications of Tony Oxley to get an idea of what Graves can inject into every moment. He plays around genres rather than letting them dictate to him. The way he leads the group through the massive and shifting planes of sound, separated by those pauses with teeth, is complemented by his entering and exiting spheres of geographic and cultural influence but leaving them just on the point of recognition. He even demonstrates, verbalizes by numbers, the rhythms he wants us to hear just before dispelling them at a stroke, or rather a series of well-placed thunderous thuds and rainbow polyrhythms, all gong-tinged and almost serene, the calm centering the storm. He is anchor and actor in a narrative of his devising, a stream of consciousness construct where learning and spontaneous inspiration collude at lightning speed, exuding unbearable and unbearably beautiful energy. He and his trio are communicating, and the listener who can hear past that scorching electricity will be enlightened by the music on this more than extraordinary reissue.

Corbett Vs. Dempsey presents a reissue of Milford Graves's Bäbi, originally issued in 1977 on Graves's own IPS label. This is the first reissue of one of the most legendary albums in the history of free music. Recorded live in concert in 1976, when Graves' trio with saxophonists Arthur Doyle and Hugh Glover was at the height of its powers, Bäbi is a testament to the absolutely unique approach the drummer had established for himself. He had reconfigured the drum kit, removing the second heads on all the drums and replacing the snare with two toms, which allowed him a much more nuanced sense of indirectness in his multi-directional adventures in time. The track "Ba" remains one of the most astonishing feats of percussion alchemy ever waxed, as funky as ten slap bassists and as free as an exploding grenade. Doyle and Glover are incendiary, too, inspired by Graves to new and shocking heights of achievement, their hoarse cries and whistling split-tones carried to thrilling plateaus on the energy of Graves' hands and feet. The original tapes for the session have been lost, so the reissue was lovingly remastered from virgin vinyl, itself now worth a mint. In 2017, Graves discovered a previously unknown tape in his archives featuring the same trio at its inception, in home recordings made seven years earlier, in 1969. Graves pummels a huge gong while Glover plays an instrument that, after sounding like none ever known, turns out to be bass clarinet. Extreme music recorded up close and very hot, it is among the most searing sessions never heard, until now. Rounding out the two-CD package are three previously unpublished photos by Gérard Rouy, and the original LP cover design by Graves himself.

Milford Graves - 1977 - Meditation Among Us

Milford Graves 
Meditation Among Us

01. Together And Moving 19:56
02. Response 16:04

Alto Saxophone, Sopranino Saxophone – Kaoru Abe
Drums, Percussion – Toshiyuki Tsuchitori
Drums, Percussion, Piano, Voice – Milford Graves
Tenor Saxophone – Mototeru Takagi
Trumpet, Horns [Alto] – Toshinori Kondo

Recorded at Polydor 1st Studio, July 28 1977.
Remixed at Polydor, 2nd Studio, August 16, 1977.

Many thanks to Hidenori Taga, Kazuo Munakata, Tokio Shibata, Kyousuke Myouga, Tsutomu Sudo

Includes 4-page insert with liner notes in Japanese and b&w photographs.

Recorded in 1977, Meditation Among Us is the collaboration of American vanguard jazz drummer Milford Graves with a Japanese jazz quartet which included trumpeter Toshinori Kondo, saxophonist Kaoru Abe, drummer Toshi Tsuchitori (who also plays piano on this session), and bassist Motoharu Yoshizawa. There are two long selections here, credited to Graves, but they feel like completely free improvisations. The blowing intensity on any Graves' date is intense, but here it is over the top, as the Japanese players attempt to match his intensity -- something they only succeed at in part. The reedy tones of Kondo and Abe contrast well with Graves tom-tom heavy approach, but as the drummer continually plays in triple, and even quadruple time, their soloing comes off more as bleats of sound than an articulation of musical ideas. In other words, this date, feels more like tonal improvisation at a very fast pace, rather than any extended harmonic engagement. To whit, there is also a distinct lack of dynamic tension here, as everything is played in overdrive, making listening an arduous chore after 15 minutes, rather than revelation.

Andrew Cyrille Milford Graves - 1974 - Dialogue Of The Drums

Andrew Cyrille  Milford Graves
Dialogue Of The Drums

01. Message To The Ancestors 10:14
02. Blessing From The Rain Forest 6:16
03. Nagarah 6:16
04. Rejuvenation 5:19
05. The Soul Is The Music 7:46
06. The Substance Of The Vision 7:07
07. Call And Response 6:13

Drum, Timpani, Bongos, Vocals, Goblet Drum, Whistle, Gong, Cymbal, Balafon, Agogo Bells, Tambourine, Shekere, Talking Drum – Milford Graves
Tom Tom, Gong , Whistle , Handclaps , Vocals, Drum, Cymbal, Castanets, Temple Block, Agogô, Chimes – Andrew Cyrille

This album is the result of working musical association between Milford Graves and Andrew dating back to April of 1969. Since that time they have coordinated and performed concert hall engagements, cultural center appearances, and performed a work for NBC Television. It should be noted that on most of these occasions the efforts and talents of the drummer Rasheid Ali were also incorporated.

Acknowledgement should also be made to pianist, composer, Cecil Taylor whose program for the musical arts in New York City during January 1974 at Columbia University's Wollman Auditorium, aided in the realization of this recording.

Additional acknowledgements to Nick Moy of Bonitza Melodies Production Company and Fred Seibert for his engineering assistance.

Cover photo donated by the Ishangi Razak Institute of African Sciences.

Rimyth Film Co. made a video tape of this concert and provided the audio equipment from which the master lacquer for this record was made.

Two drummers with roots in the groups of Cecil Taylor (among many others) joined forces for this live performance at Columbia University in 1974. Both musicians are steeped in African drum traditions as well as being free improvisers of the highest order, so it's not surprising that the resulting concert is highly rhythmic, densely "noisy," and always very imaginative. Utilizing an enormous arsenal of percussive instruments in addition to the standard drum set, Cyrille and Graves, as the album title suggests, engage in intense conversations with each other, interacting with loose precision and exploding into frenzies of clattering assault. Isolating the individual contributions is virtually fruitless, but one can discern Cyrille's patented foot stomps and body smackings, as well as Graves' vocalizations and call and response activities with the audience. The LP release is something of a collector's item, but the bracing and unusual music make it one well worth seeking out.

Milford Graves & Don Pullen - 1967 - Nommo

Milford Graves & Don Pullen

01. P.G. III 8:30
02. P .G. IV 7:35
03. P.G. V 15:20

Drums, Percussion – Milford Graves
Piano – Don Pullen

Comes with 2 documents. The first is a two page document, one page for Milford Graves and one page for Don Pullen that present SRP and describes the music. The second document is 3 pages and each page is a photocopy of the in concert at Yale University Vol. I album review from Downbeat and Jazz Monthly.

SRP Records labels state Nommo, Don Pullen -Milford Graves in concert at Yale University Vol.II

According to the labels P.G. III and IV are on side A and P.G. V is on side B. The runout matrix numbers have the original A and B scratched out, then added again in reverse order to match the labels.

Furious madness all the way through, without any regard for structure or melody. The drum rhythms are interesting and varied, and rarely follow motifs or apply consistent rhythm. The piano sounds like a drunk Cecil Taylor without the tonal clusters or progressive approach.

I’ve heard enough free jazz to know the difference between a deaf blind person having a seizure on the keys, and a seasoned musician making a cacophonous statement, and this one lies somewhere in the middle.
The songs end when Graves stops drumming, and the piano sloppily slaps a few extra keys as though missing his cue, as if there are actually are cues.
The musicians seem simultaneously sure and unsure of what they are doing, and the audience claps politely, probably while giving a look of disgust to their significant other for dragging them to this concert.

Luckily the drumming is incredibly consistent and groovy, and though this is a hard one to swallow even for fans of free jazz, is is not without it’s admirable qualities.

Milford Graves & Don Pullen - 1966 - In Concert At Yale University

Milford Graves & Don Pullen
In Concert At Yale University

01. P.G. I 18:44
02. P.G. II 23:00

Percussion – Milford Graves
Piano – Don Pullen

Milford Graves (born August 20, 1941 in Queens, New York) is an American jazz drummer, percussionist, professor, scientist, and inventor, most noteworthy for his early avant-garde contributions in the early 1960s with Paul Bley and the New York Art Quartet alongside John Tchicai, Roswell Rudd, and Reggie Workman. He is considered to be a free jazz pioneer, liberating the percussion from its timekeeping role. In fact, many of his music contemporaries, musician inspirees, and fans worldwide would argue that Graves is perhaps the most influential known musician in the development and continuing evolution of free-jazz/avant-garde music, to date. Graves taught at Bennington College, in Bennington, Vermont, as a full-time professor from 1973 until 2011, when he was awarded Emeritus status.

Initially playing timbales as a kid growing up in Queens, Graves has worked as a sideman and session musician with a variety of jazz musicians throughout his career, including Pharoah Sanders, Rashied Ali, Albert Ayler, Don Pullen, Kenny Clarke, Don Moye, Andrew Cyrille, Philly Joe Jones, Eddie Gómez, and John Zorn.

Graves has also pursued scientific and homeopathic projects related to music-based healing. In the 1960s, Graves invented a form of martial art called "Yara", based on the movements of the Praying Mantis, an African ritual dance. (Yara means "nimbleness" in the Yoruba language.) In 2013, Graves received co-inventor status on a patent for a "[m]ethod and device for preparing non-embryonic stem cells" using the rhythmic properties of the human heartbeat. He has also used ECG tracings and heart sounds as generative principles for musical compositions.

The documentary Milford Graves Full Mantis directed by Graves' former student, Jake Meginsky, along with Neil Young was released in 2018. Alice in Chains vocalist William DuVall also directed a documentary about Graves titled Ancient to Future: The Wisdom of Milford Graves. However, the film has been in post-production status since 2013 and has not been released as of 2020

Don Gabriel Pullen (December 25, 1941 – April 22, 1995) was an American jazz pianist and organist. Pullen developed a strikingly individual style throughout his career. He composed pieces ranging from blues to bebop and modern jazz. The great variety of his body of work makes it difficult to pigeonhole his musical style.

Pullen was born on December 25, 1941, and raised in Roanoke, Virginia. Growing up in a musical family, he learned the piano at an early age. He played with the choir in his local church and was heavily influenced by his cousin, Clyde "Fats" Wright, who was a professional jazz pianist. He took some lessons in classical piano and knew little of jazz. At this time, he was mainly aware of church music and the blues.

Pullen left Roanoke for Johnson C. Smith University in North Carolina to study for a medical career but soon he realized that his true vocation was music. After playing with local musicians and being exposed for the first time to albums of the major jazz musicians and composers he abandoned his medical studies. He set out to make a career in music, desirous of playing like Ornette Coleman and Eric Dolphy.

In 1964 he went to Chicago for a few weeks, where he encountered Muhal Richard Abrams' philosophy of making music. He then headed for New York, where he was soon introduced to avant-garde saxophonist Giuseppi Logan, who invited Pullen to play piano on his two albums, Giuseppi Logan (ESP, October 1964) and More (ESP, May 1965), both exercises in structured free playing.

Subsequently, Pullen and Milford Graves formed a duo. Their concert at Yale University in May 1966 was recorded. They formed their own independent SRP record label (standing for "Self Reliance Project") to publish the result as two LPs. These were the first records to bear Pullen's name, second to Graves'. Although not greatly known in the United States, these avant-garde albums were well received in Europe, most copies being sold there. These recordings have never been reissued.

Finding little money in playing avant-garde jazz, Pullen began to play the Hammond organ to extend his opportunities for work, transferring elements of his individual piano style to this instrument. During the remainder of the 1960s and early 1970s, he played with his own organ trio in clubs and bars, worked as a self-taught arranger for record companies, and accompanied various singers including Arthur Prysock, Irene Reid, Ruth Brown, Jimmy Rushing and Nina Simone.

In 1972, Pullen briefly appeared with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers.

Pullen often polarized critics and suffered from two undeserved allegations: the first (despite his grounding in the church and blues) that he was purely a free jazz player and thus unemployable in any other context; the second that he had been heavily influenced by Cecil Taylor or was a clone of Taylor, to whose playing Pullen's own bore a superficial resemblance. Pullen strenuously denied that he had any link with Taylor, stating that his own style had been developed in isolation before he ever heard of Taylor. But the assertion of Taylor's influence continued to haunt Pullen to the end of Pullen's life, and persists even to this day.

Pullen appeared on no more commercial recordings until 1971 and 1972 when he played organ on three recordings by altoist Charles Williams, one being issued under the title of a Pullen composition, "Trees And Grass And Things".

In 1973 drummer Roy Brooks introduced Pullen to bassist Charles Mingus, and after a brief audition he took over the vacant piano chair in the Mingus group; when a tenor saxophone player was needed, Pullen recommended George Adams; subsequently, Dannie Richmond returned on drums; these men, together with Jack Walrath on trumpet, formed the last great Mingus group.

Being part of the Mingus group and appearing at many concerts and on three Mingus studio recordings, Mingus Moves (1973), Changes One and Changes Two (both 1974), gave great exposure to Pullen's playing and helped to persuade audiences and critics that Pullen was not just a free jazz player. Two of his own compositions, "Newcomer" and "Big Alice", were recorded on the Mingus Moves session, but "Big Alice" was not released until a CD reissue many years later. However, musical disagreements with Mingus caused Pullen to leave the group in 1975.

Pullen had always played piano with bass and drums behind him, feeling more comfortable this way, but in early 1975 he was persuaded to play a solo concert in Toronto. This was recorded as Solo Piano Album (Sackville) and became the first record issued under Pullen's name alone. Among other pieces, it contains "Sweet (Suite) Malcolm", declared a masterpiece by Cameron Brown, Pullen's longtime associate of later years.

There was now growing awareness of Pullen's abilities, but it was the European recording companies that were prepared to preserve them. In 1975 an Italian record company gave Pullen, George Adams, and Dannie Richmond the opportunity to each make a recording under his own name. All three collaborated in the others' recordings. In the same year, Pullen made two further solo recordings in Italy, Five To Go (Horo) and Healing Force (Black Saint), the latter being received with great acclaim.[citation needed] He became part of the regular seasonal tours of American musicians to Europe, playing in the avant-garde or free mode.

In 1977, Pullen was signed by a major American record company, Atlantic Records. This led to two records, the atypical Tomorrow's Promises and the live Montreux Concert. But after these, Pullen's association with Atlantic was terminated and he returned to European companies for three recordings under his own name or in partnership: Warriors and Milano Strut in 1978, and The Magic Triangle in 1979. These, especially the startling Warriors with its strong 30-minute title track, have remained in the catalogues over the years.

Meanwhile, he recorded with groups led by Billy Hart (drums), Hamiet Bluiett (baritone sax), Cecil McBee (bass), Sunny Murray (drums) and Marcello Melis (bass). On the formation of the first Mingus Dynasty band Pullen occupied the piano chair and appeared on their recording Chair In The Sky in 1979, but he soon left the band, feeling the music had diverged too far from Mingus' intentions.

n late 1979 Pullen, Adams, and Richmond were booked to play as a quartet for a European tour of a few weeks' duration. Pullen invited Cameron Brown to join them on bass. They were asked to bill themselves as a "Mingus group", but not wanting to be identified as mere copyists, they declined and performed as the George Adams/Don Pullen Quartet. They played music that was more structured than Pullen normally favored, but the immediate rapport among them led to the group touring the world with unchanged personnel until the death of Richmond in early 1988. From very early in their first tour in 1979, and until 1985, the quartet made a dozen recordings for European labels, both in the studio and in concert. Of these, Earth Beams (1980), Live At The Village Vanguard (1983) and Decisions (1984) provide typically fine examples of their work at that period.

Although highly regarded in Europe, the quartet felt they were not well enough known in America, so in 1986 they signed to record for Blue Note Records, for which they recorded Breakthrough (1986) and Song Everlasting (1987). Beginning the Blue Note contract with great hope of increased fame and success, as shown by the title of the first album, they became disillusioned by the poor availability of the two records. Although the power of their live concerts maintained their reputation as one of the most exciting groups ever seen,[citation needed] the music recorded for the Blue Note sessions was at first deemed "smoother" than on their European recordings, and took time to achieve the same high reputation.

After the death of Dannie Richmond the quartet fulfilled their remaining contracted engagements with drummer Lewis Nash and then disbanded in mid-1988. Their music, usually original compositions by Pullen, Adams and Richmond, had ranged from blues, through ballads, to post-bop and avant-garde. The ability of the players to encompass all these areas, often within one composition, removed any sameness or sterility from the quartet format. Except for the early recordings on the vanished Horo label, their European recordings on Soulnote and Timeless remained frequently available, unlike those made for Blue Note.

During the life of the Quartet, Pullen also made a duo recording with George Adams, Melodic Excursions (1982), and made three recordings under his own name, two further solo albums, the acclaimed Evidence Of Things Unseen (1983) and Plays Monk (1984), then with a quintet, another highly praised recording The Sixth Sense (1985) on Black Saint. He also recorded with (alphabetically) Hamiet Bluiett; Roy Brooks, the drummer who introduced him to Mingus; Jane Bunnett; Kip Hanrahan; Beaver Harris; Marcello Melis; and David Murray.

All Pullen's future recordings under his own name were for Blue Note. On 16 December 1988 he went into the studio with Gary Peacock (bass) and Tony Williams (drums) to make his first trio album New Beginnings, which astonished even those familiar with his work and became widely regarded as one of the finest trio albums ever recorded. He followed this in 1990 with another trio album, Random Thoughts, in somewhat lighter mood, this time with James Genus (bass) and Lewis Nash (drums).

In late 1990 Pullen added a new element to his playing and his music with the formation of his African Brazilian Connection ("ABC"). This featured Carlos Ward (alto sax), Nilson Matta (bass), Guilherme Franco and Mor Thiam (percussion) in a group which mixed African and Latin rhythms with jazz. Their first album, Kele Mou Bana, was released in 1991. Their second, but very different, album of 1993, Ode To Life, was a tribute to George Adams, who had died on November 14, 1992,[citation needed]containing Pullen's heartfelt and moving composition in Adams' memory, "Ah George We Hardly Knew Ya". A third album, Live...Again, recorded in July 1993 at the Montreux Jazz Festival, was not released until 1995. This featured "Ah George..." and other songs from their previous albums, in somewhat extended versions. Pullen achieved more popular and commercial success with this group than with any other. In 1993 Ode To Life was fifth on the U.S. Billboard Top Jazz Album chart.

During the last few years of his life, Pullen toured with his trio, with his African Brazilian Connection, and as a solo artist, but did not release any more solo records. As a sideman and session musician, he left his mark with a variety of noteworthy artists, including (alphabetically) Jane Bunnett (notably their duo album New York Duets), Bill Cosby, Kip Hanrahan, David Murray's 1991 Shakill's Warrior, Maceo Parker, Ivo Perelman and Jack Walrath. He also toured and recorded with the group Roots from its inception.

Pullen's final project was a work combining the sounds of his African Brazilian Connection (extended by Joseph Bowie on trombone) with a choir and drums of Native Americans. Despite his Native American background (his paternal grandmother was half-Indian, probably Cherokee) he began to experiment with American Indian music as late as July 1992.[10] In 1994 Pullen was diagnosed with lymphoma. He continued to put great physical effort into completing the composition. In early March 1995 he played on his final recording, Sacred Common Ground (with the Chief Cliff Singers, Kootenai Indians from Elmo, Montana), a few weeks away from his death, returning to his heritage of the blues and the church. Unable to play at the live premiere, his place at the piano was taken by D.D. Jackson, with whom Pullen discussed the music from his hospital bed shortly before his death. He died on April 22, 1995 of lymphoma.

Pullen composed many pieces, which often were portraits or memories of people he knew. All were published by his own company, Andredon, but because he for a long time suffered from neglect musically, so did many of his compositions. His best known are the humorous "Big Alice" (for an imaginary fan), "Double Arc Jake" (for his son Jake and Rahsaan Roland Kirk), the passionate "Ode To Life" (for a friend), and the aforementioned lament, "Ah George We Hardly Knew Ya". Occasionally he wrote pieces with a religious feeling, such as "Gratitude" and "Healing Force", or to highlight the plight of African-Americans, such as "Warriors", "Silence = Death", and "Endangered Species: African American Youth". Following the assassination of African-American activist Malcolm X, Pullen had written a suite dedicated to Malcolm X's memory, but this required more instrumental resources than a normal-sized jazz group provides, and only the piano parts of this were ever recorded. Except for the Plays Monk album, Pullen almost exclusively featured his own compositions on his own recordings, until his time with the African Brazilian Connection. His compositions are well represented on the George Adams/Don Pullen Quartet recordings, but his compositions which were recorded by others were usually performed by those who had known and worked with him.

Milford Graves - 1965 - Percussion Ensemble

Milford Graves 
Percussion Ensemble

01. Nothing 5-7 2:35
02. Nothing 11-10 6:15
03. Nothing 19 7:40
04. Nothing 13 5:30
05. Nothing 12:32

Milford Graves: drums, bells, gongs, shakers
Sunny Morgan: drums, bells

Recording on August 5th, 1966 along with fellow percussionist, the late Sonny Morgan. According to Milford Graves, the titles were given numbers according to how many beats were in each measure. Milford Graves has been one of the main drummers in the free mode scene (known for skillful inclusion of Asian and African rhythmic ingredients into his solos). He worked with the New York Art Quartet, Giuseppi Logan, Albert Ayler, Don Pullen, Andrew Cyrille and many more. This unique combination of percussion conversations between Milford Graves is a welcomed addition in the new series of digipak re-issues. Liner notes, photos and more... digitally remastered from the original tapes.

Free jazz recordings that consist of nothing but percussion instruments are a rarity. For that matter, percussion-only recordings are a rarity in any type of jazz, be it fusion, swing, classic jazz, hard bop, cool jazz, post-bop, third stream, soul-jazz, or Dixieland. But Milford Graves Percussion Ensemble is, in fact, a rare example of a free jazz recording that offers percussion instruments exclusively -- no trumpet, flügelhorn, or cornet; no saxophones; no bass or cello; no acoustic piano or electric keyboards; no vibes; no accordion. Just percussion instruments from start to finish. This 1965 session finds Milford Graves forming a duo with fellow drummer Sonny Morgan; in addition to his drums, Graves provides bells, gongs, and shakers -- and Morgan also contributes some bells. But if the idea of a free jazz recording that adheres to an "all percussion all the time" policy sounds intriguing, the reality is that Percussion Ensemble (which ESP-Disk reissued on CD in 2008) isn't nearly as interesting as some might hope. Graves and Morgan's performances are aimless and not terribly inspired; unlike many of the avant-garde jazz recordings that Graves was a part of in the 1960s, this 33-minute disc never really catches fire and never goes anywhere. And after Percussion Ensemble is finished playing, the listener is left asking, "OK, what's the point? What is he trying to say?" Graves had his share of creative successes over the years; he is a talented drummer, and his more substantial performances are an asset to jazz's avant-garde. But the disappointing Percussion Ensemble is only recommended to completists.