Reviews that mention Milford Graves

February 11, 2016

Paul Bley

A Modern Jazz Piano Master
By Ken Waxman

Paul Bley who died at 83 in early January was probably never bothered that he was usually described as Canada’s second best-known jazz pianist; Oscar Peterson was the first. But Bley, who shared a Montreal birth with Peterson, and who similarly was honored with induction into the Order of Canada in 2008 – albeit 30 plus years after Peterson – was for all intents and purposes a much more radical pianist than O.P. Peterson, seven years Bley’s senior, was a flamboyant stylist who adapted Art Tatum’s all-encompassing swing era techniques to the structure of modern jazz during an almost incalculable number of performances from the late 1940s until his death in 2007. However Bley, represented on more than 100 discs during his career, cycled through a variety of keyboard strategies from the outgoing to the cerebral, eventually matching the atonality of off-centre techniques with straightforward, melodically measured motion. He was also one of the first serious improvisers to deal with the sonic possibilities that could be extracted from the then brand-new portable Moog synthesizer. Later, such better-known pianists as Keith Jarrett, The Bad Plus’ Ethan Iverson and Satoko Fujii developed their playing following the examples of Bley’s breakthroughs. MORE

March 13, 2014

Lowell Davidson/Richard Poole

Rediscovered Session of 1988
Music Artist Company No #

Booklet notes by Ken Waxman

A unique stylist whose single 1965 ESP-Disk portended new vistas for jazz piano, Lowell Davidson (1941-1990) has long been a music legend whose disc with drummer Milford Graves and bassist Gary Peacock was regarded as a brilliant one-off effort. Now, nearly a quarter century after his death, another example of his piano playing plus other musical talents is finally available. Its appearance is the culmination of a series of events which initially led vibraphonist/pianist/drummer Richard Poole, the session’s other featured performer, to record with Davidson in 1988. MORE

November 23, 2013

Giuseppi Logan

More
ESP-Disk 1013

Giuseppi Logan

…and they were cool

Improvising Beings ib 16

Musician’s re-discoveries have to be viewed in a contemporary context that takes into account innovations that have arisen since the player disappeared from view, plus the necessity of determining whether the skills that created the legend in the first place have remained intact. That was the chronicle involving Jazz’s first great re-discovery, trumpeter Bunk Johnson. Returning to the scene in the early 1940s, after a 30 year absence, the resulting sides didn’t match his historic reputation until later on when he was finally united with properly sympathetic sidemen. MORE

April 6, 2013

In Print

Always in Trouble: An Oral History of ESP-Disk, the Most Outrageous Record Label in America
Jason Weiss (Wesleyan University Press)

By Ken Waxman

Visionary, charlatan, crook, naïf – these are just a few of the epitaphs applied to Bernard Stollman who founded the legendary ESP-Disk record label in the early 1960s. Interviewing Stollman and almost three dozen ESP artists, Jason Weiss tries to make sense of its history.

An attorney with aspirations towards art and entrepreneurship, Stollman made ESP a full-fledged imprint after hearing tenor saxophonist Albert Ayler. By chance he had stumbled upon a fertile jazz scene, rife with players who lacked recording opportunities. Soon ESP provided many of the era’s most important musical innovators with the freedom to record without interference. ESP jazz artists included Ayler, Burton Greene, Milford Graves, Paul Bley and Sun Ra plus rockers such as The Fugs and Pearls Before Swine. MORE

November 19, 2008

Lowell Davidson

Trio
ESP-Disk ESP 1012

One of the most frustrating – and saddest – musical tales from the 1960s, a decade riff with sad and frustrated musical yarns, makes up the background of this exceptional reissued CD by pianist Lowell Davidson.

Recorded in 1965, with the trio filled out by master bassist Gary Peacock and legendary percussionist Milford Graves, this five-track session is the sum total of Davidson’s recorded work. Then doing graduate work in biochemistry at Harvard University, Davidson was recommended to ESP by Ornette Coleman himself. Unlike other shadowy figures on the label, such as Byron Allen, the pianist was never part of the New Thing scene in New York and returned to Boston after this disc was recorded. Gravely injured in a lab accident, Davidson died in 1990 at 49 and never recorded commercially again. Tapes of his playing piano and percussion (!) in Boston do exist, but have never been released. MORE

August 4, 2000

NEW YORK ART QUARTET

35th Reunion
DIW 936

Reunions can be a chancy proposition. Whether it’s the Modern Jazz Quartet getting together after 10 years or the Guess Who recombining after 20, nostalgic expectations can often exceed reality. This can be especially serious if, unlike some rock band “reunions” which occur regularly as soon as bank balances dip, combination, as on this CD, literally bring together players who often haven’t seen one another for many decades.

Sometimes the results are spectacular, oftentimes not so. And 35TH REUNION has examples of both.

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