Tribute Page: Milford Graves – Dialogue of the Drums (Andrew Cyrille)
Legendary free jazz drummer Milford Graves has died on 12th February 2021 at the age of 79. Innovative percussionist revered for his pioneering contributions to the free-jazz movement and revolutionizing the role of percussionists by asserting that drummers could take the spotlight and be more than just a timekeeper. Throughout his music career, Graves collaborated with a lengthy list of artists, such as Albert Ayler, New York Art Quartet, Sun Ra, Paul Bley, Jazz Composer Orchestra, Chick Corea, Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba, David Murray, Sonny Sharrock, Bill Laswell, Peter Brotzmann, William Parker, Lou Reed, or John Zorn, who described Graves as “a 20th-century shaman”.
When in 1962 Graves heard the John Coltrane Quartet, Elvin Jones drumming made such a strong impression on him, that he bought his first drum kit. Two years later he will take a part in inspiring Coltrane himself, when he played with Albert Ayler's trio, with Ayler on sax, Gary Peacock on bass, and Sunny Murray, as a second drummer. This combination of musicians inspired John Coltrane to add Rashied Ali as a second drummer the following year.
In 1964 Graves participated in the "October Revolution in Jazz" organized by Bill Dixon, and appeared on a number of recordings, including the New York Art Quartet's self-titled debut album, co-founded with John Tchicai, Lewis Worrell, and Roswell Rudd, featuring revolutionary poet Amiri Baraka on their first album. Giuseppi Logan Quartet's debut album, which also featured pianist Don Pullen and bassist Eddie Gómez On the Jazz Composer's Orchestra's Communication's album he played with a collective of Carla Bley, Paul Bley, Archie Shepp, Steve Lacy and Steve Swallow. On Montego Joe's Arriba! Con Montego Joe, played with a fellow innovator Chick Corea who sadly passed away just three days before Graves.
Listen to Milford Graves and David Murray collaborative album Reel Deal:
Graves joined Albert Ayler's band in 1967, carrier of John Coltrane’s torch in free jazz. The group performed at the Newport Jazz Festival, and, on July 21, at John Coltrane's funeral. Recordings of this performance were released in 2004 on the compilation Holy Ghost. Later that year, the group recorded Love Cry on Impulse!
In the late 1960s he began playing with drummers Andrew Cyrille and Rashied Ali on a series of concerts titled Dialogue of the Drums. Graves and Cyrille also recorded and released an album without Ali and with the title Dialogue of the Drums in 1974.
Watch the video of Milford Graves and Andrew Cyrille performing together live improvised Dialogue of the Drums:
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