Jazz double bass player Henry Grimes carried away by the Covid-19

The jazz world has not been spared this virus. April 17 died in Harlem the double bass player Henry Grimes, free veteran who had yet returned from afar, having survived a life almost on the street. It was in the early 2000s that the native of Philadelphia (1935) reappeared after more than three decades of absence. We thought already dead the one who, in his young years, frequented all the gotha ​​of jazz, rather avant-garde trend: pillar at Albert Ayler’s, but also used to Don Cherry Blue Note period, partner in particular of Pharoah Sanders and Cecil Taylor, he was also a member of the Sonny Rollins trio at the end of the 1950s, then that of McCoy Tyner in 1962. Three years later, it is still in trio, but under his name, that he signs a terrible The call on ESP, cult label for any researcher of divergent sounds. An intense album, like his black-black look, which fixes the lens on the cover image.

Only here, the story stops in 1967: the young thirty-something whose CV promises a good tomorrow disappears … Until 2002, when another double bass player, William Parker, finds the ex-little guy from the east coast at the across the United States. He offers him an instrument, a second chance that seizes Henry Grimes. From then on he went on, all the more beautiful: in duet with Rachid Ali, in trio with Marc Ribot as in total solo, his bow shears the harmonies and his fingering makes the strings creak. This revival sounds the most just echo: to the dizziness of the first hours, the musician adds the experience of those who frequented the deep sea. Until the Covid19 definitively nails this apostle of “spiritual” jazz.

The same day, a few kilometers away, in a health center in Queens, succumbed the saxophonist Giuseppi Logan, even more ephemeral flagship of the free, who was also born in Philadelphia, who also burned (two discs) for the legendary ESP firm, before disappearing from the forefront more than forty years, a homeless time, and experiencing a too brief resurrection. Definitely, curious irony that this pandemic.


Jacques Denis

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