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Henry Grimes

Master jazz musician (acoustic bass, violin, poetry) HENRY GRIMES has played more than 600 concerts in 30 countries (including many festivals) since 2OO3, 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. As a youngster in the '50s and early '60s, he came up in the music playing and touring with Willis "Gator Tail" Jackson, Arnett Cobb, "Bullmoose" Jackson, "Little" Willie John, and a number of other great R&B / soul musicians; at Juilliard he played classical music on bass with the opera orchestra and studied with the great Fred Zimmermann, principal bassist of the New York Philharmonic; 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 named Marshall Marrotte in 2002 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, '03 to play in the Vision Festival.

Since then, often working as a leader, he has played, toured, and / or recorded with many of this era's music heroes, such as Rashied Ali, Marshall Allen, Fred Anderson, Marilyn Crispell, Ted Curson, Andrew Cyrille, Bill Dixon, Dave Douglas, Andrew Lamb, Edward "Kidd" Jordan, Roscoe Mitchell, David Murray, Amina Claudine Myers, William Parker, Marc Ribot, Wadada Leo Smith, and Cecil Taylor. In the past few years, Henry has also held a number of residencies and offered workshops and master classes on major campuses (including Berklee College of Music, New England Conservatory, Hamilton College of Performing Arts, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, CalArts, Mills College, the University of Gloucestershire at Cheltenham, and several more). He can be heard on about a dozen new recordings, made his professional debut on a second instrument (the violin) at Lincoln Center at the age of 70 with Cecil Taylor, has seen the publication of the first volume of his poetry, "Signs Along the Road," and creates illustrations to accompany his new recordings and publications. He has received many honors in recent years, including four Meet the Composer grants and the Lifetime Achievement Award from Arts for Art / Vision Festival in 2016. He can be heard on 90+ 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.

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If only for the Ann Arbor debut of the legendary and recently rediscovered bassist Henry Grimes, the closing night of Edgefest [Oct., 'O5] would be deemed an overwhelming success. As if making up for the lost decades, Grimes, rarely playing at less than an eighth-note pace, gently prodded reedman Andrew Lamb and drummer Newman Taylor Baker through a handful of insistent yet meditative suites that found plenty of room for all three players to shine. That the trio rarely rose above a whisper didn't take away from its intensity; rather, with Grimes furnishing mantra-like foundations both with his fingers and a bow, Baker and Lamb were able to overlay their own invocations, creating an almost chamber-music-like vibe in the intimate venue. Lamb, who switched between tenor saxophone, clarinet and flute, was a worthy melodic foil for Grimes' churning rhythms, while Baker, tastefully restrained, relied on nuance and color in order not to overshadow the leader. Grimes clearly was totally assured with his instrument at his command, rewarding an adoring house that had waited far too long to bask in the virtuosity of one of jazz's truly legendary figures. - Will Stewart, “Ann Arbor News”

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