Henry Grimes Trio - "The Call", ESP / Abraxas
www.abraxasrecords.com

Recently, I'd read an investigative report in The Wire (Jan. 2003) about how bassist-extraordinaire Henry Grimes had in fact been found alive and well, after more than 30 year leave of absence from the realm of music making. He now lives in Los Angeles, and hasn't played music for decades. The world suffered a great loss, when in 1967, for some unexplained reason, he'd dropped out from playing with the best musicians in the world of free jazz. He will always be remembered as the bassist of choice for Albert Ayler, with whom he had recorded masterpieces such as "Witches and Devils", "Spirits Rejoice" and "In Greenwich Village". His 1965 recording "The Call" (which turned out to be his only as a leader prior to his early retirement) sees him at the height of his musical prowess. "For Django" features a stretched out duo between Grimes' vibrant bass and Penny Robinson's exuberant clarinet lines. The title track features some especially strong supporting role from percussionist Tom Price, while the closing track "Son of Alfalfa" features nearly hypnotic work from Robinson. Grimes leads his outfit without any overbearing momentum on the trio. Rather, he allows for plenty of breathing space from both Price and Robinson. What makes this for a happy ending is the fact that Henry Grimes has made a comeback earlier this year. He has appeared at New York's Vision Festival. William Parker has generously donated a bass to him. He has begun teaching a class on improvisation in a Los Angeles high school. "The Call" might have been an early high point in his career, but from all reports, he has yet to show us the real peak.

Tom Sekowski


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