Clip: Henry Grimes and Marshall Allen in Pittsburgh
- Marshall Allen must like Pittsburgh; the Arkestra's show there a couple of
years ago ranks with the best shows I ever saw in town. This looks like a
splendid bill, including the opening act.
Henry Grimes and Marshall Allen
Call It a Comeback
Writer: MANNY THEINER
How long can immense talent lay dormant, like Mount St. Helens, and still
burst back to life? The Guinness Book record just might have been set by
Henry Grimes, who was discovered three years ago by Athens, Ga., jazz
enthusiast Marshall Marrotte. Grimes, a Julliard graduate who had been one
of the premier jazz bassists in the late 50s and early 60s, was living in
an squalid hotel in downtown Los Angeles and hadnt touched his instrument
in nearly 30 years, merely because he couldnt afford to buy one.
William Parker, the New York-based bassist who is one of the leading lights
of the current generation of forward-thinking jazz, came to the mans
rescue, finding him a bass and ensuring that Grimes could move to the East
Coast and rejoin the scene which had long forgotten his muscular prowess,
knowing him only through such milestone recordings as Albert Aylers
Witches and Devils, Don Cherrys Symphony for Improvisers and Cecil
Taylors Conquistador. Having worked in that seminal period with everyone
from Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane to Benny Goodman, Grimes probably
had more than his share of stories to tell.
But his bass playing told the real tale. Grimes initial comeback gigs at
the Vision Festival caused jaws to drop, and contemporary cats were soon
clamoring to play with jazzs apparent Rip Van Winkle, now at the top of
his game. One momentous combo united Grimes with loft-era sax giant David
Murray and Chicago drummer Hamid Drake (known for his work with Ken
Vandermark and Peter Brotzmann).
Grimes proceeded to tear up the New York scene, and then moved on to
astonish Europe, although an even more titanic pairing was yet to come. One
of the few current living jazz musicians who could match Grimes
avant-garde depth was Marshall Allen, who led the Sun Ra Arkestra reed
section for 40 years, recorded over 200 albums with the band, and then took
over the direction of the group in 1995 when Ra and John Gilmore both
departed the earthly plane. A pioneer of world music, invented instruments
and progressive jazz in his own right, Allens collaboration with Grimes
should prove nothing short of legendary. If theres one jazz show this year
that you absolutely shouldnt miss, this is it.
Henry Grimes and Marshall Allen with Thoth Trio. 7 p.m. Sun., Mar. 6. Brew
House, 2100 Mary Street, South Side. 412-381-7767.