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Milford Graves: Percussion Ensemble

In recent times, nearly the entire catalog of the 1960s avant-garde ESP-Disk label has been getting reissued (although Ran Blake Plays Solo Piano never seems to return). Percussion Ensemble features drum duets by Milford Graves and the forgotten Sunny Morgan that are of limited interest. Giuseppi Logan was an intriguing multi-reedist who led two albums, including 1964’s The Giuseppi Logan Quartet, which is most significant for the playing of pianist Don Pullen at the beginning of his career. The one album led by bassist Henry Grimes before his 30-year disappearance, 1965’s The Call, has also returned and features Grimes, clarinetist Perry Robinson and drummer Tom Price on six stirring originals. Grimes’ return to music in late 2002 after 34 years “lost in L.A.” is an inspiring story.

Also inspiring was Art Pepper’s comeback, which started in 1975 after 15 years during which he was barely part of the jazz scene. Much of the credit for Pepper’s final seven years of brilliant playing goes to his wife Laurie Pepper who, on her Widow’s Taste label, has been compiling previously unreleased concert performances by her late husband. Unreleased Art, Vol. III: The Croydon Concert is a two-CD set of a 1981 set by Pepper, pianist Milcho Leviev, bassist Bob Magnusson and drummer Carl Burnett that is full of exciting and extended performances, including a 13-minute “Cherokee” and a 19 1/2-minute version of “Patricia.” Despite his difficult life, Pepper never seemed to have made an uninspired recording. Vol. III keeps the long string alive.

Originally Published