From the late 50s throughout the 60s, after receiving his music education at the Mastbaum School in Philadelphia and at the Juilliard School in New York City, HENRY GRIMES played acoustic bass with many master jazz musicians of that era, including Albert Ayler, Don Cherry, Benny Goodman, Coleman Hawkins, Roy Haynes, Steve Lacy, Charles Mingus, Gerry Mulligan, Sunny Murray, Sonny Rollins, Pharoah Sanders, Archie Shepp, Cecil Taylor, and McCoy Tyner. Sadly, a trip to the West Coast to work with Al Jarreau and Jon Hendricks went awry, leaving Henry in downtown Los Angeles at the end of the '60s with a broken bass he couldn't pay to repair, so he sold it for a small sum and faded away from the music world. Without a bass, a vehicle, or a telephone, he was truly lost. But he was discovered there by a Georgia social worker and fan in 2002 and was given a bass by William Parker, and after only a few weeks of ferocious woodshedding, Henry emerged from his little room to begin playing concerts around Los Angeles, and made a triumphant return to New York City in May, '03 to play in the Vision Festival. Since then, Henry Grimes has played more than 430 concerts (including many festivals), touring throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe, and the Far East, playing and recording with many of this decade's music heroes, such as Rashied Ali, Marshall Allen, Fred Anderson, Marilyn Crispell, Andrew Cyrille, Bill Dixon, Dave Douglas, Edward Kidd" Jordan, Roscoe Mitchell, Louis Moholo-Moholo, David Murray, Zim Ngqawana, William Parker, Marc Ribot, Wadada Leo Smith, and again, Cecil Taylor. Henry made his professional debut on a second instrument (the violin) at the age of 70, has seen the publication of the first volume of his poetry, Signs Along the Road," and creates illustrations to accompany his new recordings and publications. He has received many honors in recent years, including four Meet the Composer grants and a grant from the Acadia Foundation. He has also held a number of recent residencies and offered workshops and master classes on major campuses, including Berklee College of Music, Buffalo Academy, CalArts (hosted by Wadada Leo Smith), Hamilton College of Performing Arts, Humber College, Mills College (hosted by Roscoe Mitchell), New England Conservatory, University of Gloucestershire at Cheltenham, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and more. Henry can be heard on 85 recordings, including a dozen recent ones, on various labels (Atlantic, Ayler Records, Blue Note, Columbia, ESP-Disk, ILK Music, Impulse!, JazzNewYork Productions, Pi Recordings, Porter Records, Prestige, Riverside, Verve, etc.). Henry Grimes has been a permanent resident of New York City since 2003.
Henry Grimes masterfully controls the bass sound, exploring the harmonies with the wisdom of a master painter. He enfolds the melodic designs with infinite variations of tact and sensibility. Yet the sense of drama of the narrative is always alive. At times he takes up the violin, an instrument he had studied as a child, and darting through the piece are arrows of its sweet brightness." Giuseppe Segala, All About Jazz / Italy
Henry has unbelievable ears and what he plays will always relate to whats going on in some completely unpredictable and beautiful way. Its tempting to write off the density of his playing as just him going off the deep end, but when you listen to it, you hear the melody sped up, counterpointed, harmonized, attacked, distorted, played backwards. Hes really the Cecil Taylor of the bass. When I play with Henry, its as if Id only seen synthetic fabrics my whole life, and Im confronted with a hand-knitted wool sweater with all its oddities and imperfectionsdifferent, yet infinitely warmer."Marc Ribot interview in All About Jazz"
ISHMAEL WADADA LEO SMITH, trumpeter and multi-instrumentalist, composer, improviser, and educator, has been active in creative contemporary music for over forty years. Born in Leland, Mississippi, his early musical life began in high-school concert and marching bands. At the age of thirteen, he became involved with the Delta Blues and improvisational music traditions. He received his formal musical education from his stepfather, Alex Wallace, the U.S. military band program (1963), Sherwood School of Music (1967-69), and Wesleyan University (1975-76). Mr. Smith has studied a variety of music cultures: African, Japanese, Indonesian, European, and American. He has taught at the University of New Haven (1975-76), the Creative Music Studio in Woodstock, NY (1975-78), and Bard College (1987-93), and is currently a faculty member at The Herb Alpert School of Music at California Institute of the Arts, where he is Director of the African-American Improvisational Music program. He is a member of ASCAP, Chamber Music America, and the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. His awards and commissions include: Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (2009-10); Other Minds residency and Taif, a string quartet commission (2008); Fellow of the Jurassic Foundation (2008); FONT (Festival of New Trumpet) Award of Recognition (2008); Jazz Journalists Association Jazz Award (2005); Islamic World Arts Initiative of Arts International (2004); Fellow of the Civitela Foundation (2003); Fellow at the Atlantic Center for the Arts (2001); Third Culture Copenhagen in Denmark, where he presented a paper on Ankhrasmation, his systemic music language, significant in his development as an artist and educator (1996); Meet the Composer / Lila Wallace-Readers Digest Commissioning Program (1996); Asian Cultural Council Grantee to Japan (1993); Meet the Composer / Lila Wallace-Readers Digest Commissioning Program (19900); New York Foundation on the Arts Fellowship in Music (1990); numerous Meet the Composer grants (since 1977); and National Endowment for the Arts Music Grants (1972, 1974, 1981). Some of the musicians Mr. Smith has performed with include: Muhal Richard Abrams, Han Bennink, Ed Blackwell, Carla Bley, Lester Bowie, Henry Brant, Anthony Braxton, Marion Brown, Milton Campbell, Don Cherry, Andrew Cyrille, Anthony Davis, Richard Davis, Jack DeJohnette, Henry Grimes, Charlie Haden, Kang Tae Hwan, Kim Dae Hwan, Joseph Jarman, Leroy Jenkins, Peter Kowald, Oliver Lake, Jeanne Lee, George Lewis, Malachi Favors Maghostut, Misha Mengelberg, Roscoe Mitchell, David Murray, Tadao Sawai, Kazuko Shiraishi, Cecil Taylor, Richard Teitelbaum, Sabu Toyozumi, Kazutoki Umezu, Kosei Yamamoto, among many others. Mr. Smith currently leads three ensembles: Golden Quartet, Silver Orchestra, and Organic. His compositions have also been performed by many other contemporary music ensembles.
Leo Smith is one of the most vital musicians on the planet today. To say that he is a highly original player would be an understatement. Inspiration is the function of the hero, and Leo Smith is a hero of American Music. Bill Shoemaker, Coda
Leo Smiths timbres and shifting relationships of structure and improvisation conspire toward a refreshing new entity in the jazz scene, with echoes of 70s Miles electric-jazz voodoo, AACM ideals, and something new and personal.Josef Woodard, JazzTimes