Milford Graves
(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
Krentz Ratings:
New York Art Quartet (1964), 6/10
Percussion Ensemble (1965), 7.5/10
At Yale University (1966), 6/10
Nommo (1966), 6/10
Dialogue of the Drums (1974), 6/10
Babi (1976), 5.5/10
Meditation Among Us (1977), 6/10
Grand Unification (1997), 6/10
Stories (2000), 6/10
Homage (2005), 5.5/10
Space/Time Redemption (2014), 5/10

Milford Graves (1941), the percussionist on New York Art Quartet (november 1964), featuring Roswell Rudd on trombone, John Tchicai on alto sax and Lewis Worrell on bass, was perhaps the boldest of the free-jazz drummers. After establishing his credentials with saxophonist Giuseppe Logan (1964-65), Graves recorded Percussion Ensemble (july 1965) with another percussionist, Sunny Morgan, and then a live session with pianist Don Pullen, documented on At Yale University (april 1966) and Nommo (april 1966). These albums were about dissonance and soundscape, not about melody and rhythm. Graves became one of the most reclusive musicians of his time, rarely documented on record: a percussion duo with Andrew Cyrille, Dialogue Of The Drums (january 1974) Babi (march 1976), with reed players Arthur Doyle and Hugh Glover, Meditation Among Us (july 1977), with Mototeru Takagui on tenor, Kaoru Abe on alto, Toshinori Kondo on trumpet, and Toshiyuki Tsuchitori on percussion. He also invented a martial art called "yara".

He had to wait till the end of the century before he could release solo albums such as Grand Unification (october 1997) and Stories (june 2000) that fully represent his vision.

Homage (2005) collected collaborations with vocalist Thomas Buckner and percussionist George Marsh, notably Blanco (2000). Space/Time - Redemption (TUM, 2014) documents a collaboration between drummer Milford Graves and bassist Bill Laswell.

Meanwhile he had become obsessed with heartbeats and started an interdisciplinary research program, even coauthoring a scientific paper with a molecular biologist. Graves also began to compose visual art, notably computer-enhanced kinetic sculptures such as "Beyond Polymath" (2017), frequently combined with electronic music.

Graves played in Matthew Barney's film River of Fundament (2014) and was the subject of a documentary, Milford Graves Full Mantis (2018).

Graves died in 2021.

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(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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