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Grand Unification

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Album Review

Milford Graves was one of the greatest free jazz percussionists of the '60s, mastering the traps, conga, and tabla to create a multiethnic firestorm of rhythm. He has essentially not recorded for years, making sporadic appearances on the albums of other jazz artists while making almost no recordings of his own. The very fact that he has a new album on the Tzadik label is, therefore, exciting. Fans of Graves from the '60s will be pleased to note that this is a collection of work that picks up right where he left off. Others may find it a little bit of a relic in its frenzied and jazz stylings. Regardless, the record is a tight, technical masterpiece played with passion. Combining a variety of African, Asian, and Western drums with rhythmic chanting, Graves provides all of the instrumentation on the album and creates something rare: unaccompanied jazz percussion that shows variety and consistent energy throughout a nearly hour-long album.


Born: 20 August 1941 in New York, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Milford Graves has been among the flashiest drummers in the free mode, known for skillful inclusion of Asian and African rhythmic ingredients into his solos. He studied Indian music extensively, including learning the tabla from Wasantha Singh. He has unfortunately not recorded much, especially on American labels. Graves played congas as a child, then switched to trap drums at 17 before his tabla studies with Singh. During the '60s, Graves worked with Giuseppi Logan and the New York Art Quartet....
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Grand Unification, Milford Graves
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