By Matt Micucci
On Friday, Nov 6, from 7 pm to 10:30 pm, there will be a concert and celebration in honor of the 80th birthday of Henry Grimes at the beautiful Sanctuary of Jan Hus Neighborhood Center.
Mr. Grimes will play his acoustic bass and violin throughout the evening, and he has invited some of his dearest bandmate friends and other performers to join him in mostly duo settings, with the entire aggregation improvising together at the end of the musical part of the evening.
Many artists will be features. There will be musicians, the likes of drummers Denardo Coleman and Andrew Cyrille, pianist Connie Crothers and bassist Melvin Gibbs. But there will also be poets and writers, such as Tyehimba Jess, along with dancers, with the great Henry Grimes himself playing throughout.
Henry Grimes is a fascinating figure in the history of avant garde jazz. He is known as one of the fathers of the movement, having created new music alongside Albert Ayler, Amiri Baraka, Coleman Hawkins, Charles Mingus, Sonny Rollins, Pharoah Sanders, Cecil Taylor, and many more in the breakaway fifties and sixties.
He was a highly regarded bassist, but suffered an incredible setback when a tour to the West Coast went awry, leaving Henry in downtown L.A. at the end of the ’60s with a broken bass he couldn’t pay to repair. This led to his disappearing from the music scene entirely, until he was “rediscovered” in 2002, and given a bass by William Parker.
This kickstarted the second coming of Henry Grimes, as he played, toured and recorded with such artists as Rashied Ali, Marshall Allen, Marc Ribot and many more. At the age of 70, he even made his professional debut on a second instrument – the violin – alongside Cecil Taylor at Lincoln Center.
Aside from his music career, he in the past few years he has established himself as a writer and poet, with the first volume of his poetry having been published. On top of that, he illustrates his new recordings and publications, and continues to surpass himself and all expectations.