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Best of 2023

Milford Graves

Bäbi, Nommo, In Concert At Yale University (3LP Bundle)

Label: Superior Viaduct

Format: 3 LP Bundle

Genre: Jazz

In stock

€85.00
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Just Restocked ** The three groundbreaking Milford Graves LPs in bundle at a special price. Sourced from the master tapes. First-time vinyl reissue ** Babi: By the early '70s, Milford Graves had more or less stopped gigging. Having learned his lesson the hard way in multiple-night runs like a legendary Slugs' residency with Albert Ayler, he knew that the level of energy that he put out during a performance would be difficult to sustain over the long haul. A concert was a kind of absolute ritual for him, after which he would be totally spent, emotionally and physically. Graves rarely left anything on the table. Any musical performance was an opportunity to present an amalgamated version of all the things he had learned. He was an innovator and a teacher at his core, and the concert venue was one of his first classroom settings. In March 1976, Verna Gillis invited Graves to perform on WBAI's Free Music Store radio show. For the date, he chose to present a trio lineup which he had been occasionally playing – featuring two saxophonists who were dedicated to the drummer's vision. Hugh Glover is almost exclusively known for his work with Graves, while Arthur Doyle would gain exposure later for an obscure record that he made two years later, Alabama Feeling, which would become a highly collectable item among free jazz enthusiasts. Originally released in 1977, Bäbi remains one of Graves' most seminal recordings. The music played by the trio was ecstatic. Extreme energy music, buoyant and joyful. It relied on Graves' new way of approaching the drum kit, in which he had opened up the bottoms of his skin-slackened toms and eliminated the snare. Graves' art was always unblemished by commercial interests, and this album is its finest mission statement.

Nommo: Groundbreaking early work from drummer Milford Graves and pianist Don Pullen – a set of long, free improvisations that were originally issued on Graves' Self-Reliance Productions label! The music is even more striking than sounds from the time on the ESP label – and also really predates some of the freer work of this type from the European scene – as Graves is a monster on the drum kit and a range of percussion, reaching out with this scope of sound and deft command of his hands that's simply breathtaking – matched by energy from Pullen that really surpasses some of his later work too – almost Cecil Taylor-like vibes at points, mixed with other elements that are in a more familiar mode for the pianist. In his 1967 DownBeat review of the initial release, Amiri Baraka wrote: "The music is beautiful on this album... These two players... are making some of the deepest music anywhere. It wants nothing." Peter Margasak included the album in his list of "Favorite Albums of 2020," and wrote: "Essential coupling of two insanely rare duo albums from a 1966 concert at Yale University: Pullen at his most ferocious and probing, Graves making a huge step in establishing his radical approach to polymetric movement." In a review for Point of Departure, John Sharpe commented: "The five pieces represent a true dialogue... Although intensity levels vary, the exchanges remain resolutely non-melodic and non-metric throughout... Even after all this time the music still challenges preconceptions. It remains a classic of the genre and deserves to be widely heard." 

In Concert At Yale University:  The late percussionist Milford Graves was one of the most unique artists the world has ever seen. Born in Jamaica, Queens in 1941, he began his career in the early '60s as a part of New York's vibrant Latin jazz scene. His focus quickly turned inward, shifting towards a practice that explored the very nature of self. From his work in the New York Art Quartet and collaborations with Albert Ayler, Sonny Sharrock and more to his important contributions during NYC's loft era – he is, simply put, free jazz royalty. In April 1966, the duo of Graves and pianist Don Pullen played at Yale University. As John Corbett writes in the liner notes, "This performance was something of a turning point for Graves. Until then he had been working in other people's bands or collective ensembles. He was phenomenally busy. In 1965 alone, he recorded with NYAQ (two LPs), Giuseppi Logan Quartet, Paul Bley Quintet and Lowell Davidson Trio, and he made his first recording released under his own name, Percussion Ensemble. Every one of these is important in its own way, but none of them quite anticipate how radical was the music that he and Pullen would unleash that evening in New Haven." Originally released on the artists' own Self-Reliance Program label, this legendary one-night performance would be split into two volumes: In Concert At Yale University and Nommo. While rooted in African rhythms, Graves' music has its own sense of time. As the drummer stated in a 1966 DownBeat interview, "Time was always there, and the time I see is not the same as what man says time is. It works by impulsion."

 

Details
Cat. number: SV 194, 195, 196
Year: 2023