Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Now about Henry Grimes

Playing right now: Bud Powell - Portrait of Thelonious
I took a pile of albums purchased at an estate sale to Jerry's today. Last week he told me he needs "best sellers": Beatles, early Stones, Grateful Dead. Well I found some McCartney albums, Emotional Rescue and two LPs by that band that you would never see in my possession unless there's something in it for me. Jerry said later Stones and solo Sir Paul don't move, but he gave me a decent chunk of change for all of them, so I made a little dough in the process. (I threw in my U.S. copy of Help!, a couple Tony Bennetts, and 4 Grandmaster Flash 12"s I had sitting around. All but the Tonys padded out the filler.) Plus I got $5 in trade. And that's how I wound up with this Bud Powell album. I kept nodding off or getting interrupted when I played it earlier this evening so I'm trying to check it out now. He was in good form on it, although his version of "Monk's Mood" seems kind of tedious. 7 minutes and nothing but the theme repeated over and over. Maybe it'll grow on me.
So on Saturday I met up with Henry Grimes to give him a Before & After "test" for JazzTimes. Henry is an interesting person since he played with a lot of avant-garde jazz guys in the '60s (Albert Ayler, Cecil Taylor -- hey, who else do you need to mention?) as well as Thelonious Monk and others. Then he disappeared. Well, he moved to LA and a lot of people thought he dropped of the face of the earth. About 4 years ago, a social worker found him and a number of people helped him get a new bass (William Parker mainly) and now Henry is back in New York making music.

The Before & After is like what downbeat calls the Blindfold test: Play the musician a recording, ask them what they think of the music and who it might be. Tell them. Get more reactions.

At first I was worried the thing was going to fall through since I wasn't able to get into the apartment where he was staying. I banged on the door for about 10 minutes and then went to the payphone across the street to call Henry's girlfriend/manager. No answer. And I think I freaked out a friend who happened to pass by right as I was trying to figure out what to do. I felt bad because he wanted to help me and there was absolutely nothing that could have been done to alleviate the problem. After driving up to ModernFormations (the show was there) I got in touch with Ed, whose apartment it was, and he told me to come to the back fire escape. Finally, contact was made.

I don't think I should tell you how the B&A went. You should read about it in JazzTimes when it comes out. Although that might not be until next spring.

Allow me to skip ahead to the performance and say that Henry is league with any big time, bad ass player you can name. Mingus, Ray Brown, no kidding, this guy is solid as a rock. He played with Oluyemi Thomas, a multi-reedist from California. That guy started on bass clarinet, switched to musette (which sounded really wild, like an adolescent soprano sax) then onto soprano sax, on which he had a really thick strong tone. Henry moved all over the bass, played with a bow, held the bow w/a couple fingers while he plucked the strings. He was everything you would've hoped.

Got the new issue of JazzTimes today and I have a whole bunch of stuff in it. I wrote 11 guitar player reviews (god help me) for the Guitartistry column, plus 3 separate standing reviews. Look for it on your favorite newsstand. And if you only want to read one thing that I did, go to my review of the Dom Manasi CD in the Guitartistry column. I've rather proud of my ending line.

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