Henry Grimes

All About Jazz user Henry Grimes

United States

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"Henry Grimes is among the greatest improvisers living in the world today; his playing is exquisite." -- Roscoe Mitchell

Master jazz musician (acoustic bass, violin) HENRY GRIMES has played more than 540 concerts in 29 countries (including many festivals) in the 10 years since 2003, when he made his astonishing return to the music world after 35 years away. He was born and raised in Philadelphia and attended the Mastbaum School and Juilliard. In the '5O's and '6O's, he came up in the music playing and touring with Willis “Gator Tail” Jackson, “Bullmoose” Jackson, “Little” Willie John, and a number of other great R&B / soul musicians; but drawn to jazz, he went on to play, tour, and record with many great jazz musicians of that era, including Albert Ayler, Don Cherry, Benny Goodman, Coleman Hawkins, Roy Haynes, Lee Konitz, Steve Lacy, Charles Mingus, Gerry Mulligan, Sunny Murray, Sonny Rollins, Pharoah Sanders, Archie Shepp, Cecil Taylor, McCoy Tyner, and Rev. Frank Wright.

Sadly, a trip to the West Coast to work with Al Jarreau and Jon Hendricks went awry, leaving Henry in Los Angeles at the end of the '6O's with a broken bass he couldn't pay to repair, so he sold it for a small sum and faded away from the music world. Many years passed with nothing heard from him, as he lived in his tiny rented room in an S.R.O. hotel in downtown Los Angeles, working as a manual laborer, custodian, and maintenance man, and writing many volumes of handwritten poetry.

He was discovered there by a Georgia social worker and fan in 2OO2 and was given a bass by William Parker, and after only a few weeks of ferocious woodshedding, Henry emerged from his room to begin playing concerts around Los Angeles and shortly afterwards made a triumphant return to New York City in May, 'O3 to play in the Vision Festival. Since then, often working as a leader, he has played, toured, and / or recorded with many of today's music heroes, such as Rashied Ali, Marshall Allen, Fred Anderson, Marilyn Crispell, Ted Curson, Andrew Cyrille, Bill Dixon, Dave Douglas, Andrew Lamb, Roscoe Mitchell, David Murray, William Parker, Marc Ribot, Wadada Leo Smith, and Cecil Taylor.

In the past few years, Henry has also held residencies at several fine educational institutions, including Berklee College of Music, New England Conservatory, the University of Gloucestershire at Cheltenham (U.K.), the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, etc., and has given a number of workshops and master classes at several more. He's released more than a dozen new recordings, made his professional debut on a second instrument (the violin) at the age of 7O, brought the first volume of his poetry, “Signs Along the Road,” to publication, and has been creating illustrations to accompany his new recordings and publications. He has received many honors in recent years, including four Meet the Composer grants and a grant from the Acadia Foundation. He can be heard on more than 85 recordings on various labels, including Atlantic, Ayler Records, Blue Note, Columbia, ESP-Disk, ILK Music, Impulse!, JazzNewYork Productions, Pi Recordings, Porter Records, Prestige, Riverside, and Verve. Henry Grimes now lives and teaches in New York City.

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