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Henry Grimes Trio - Live at the Kerava Jazz Festival

Dan Warburton, Paris Transatlantic

Much - maybe too much - has been written on the return to the scene of legendary bassist Henry Grimes since he was discovered living in cheap lodgings in LA by social worker Marshall Marrotte back in 2002.
When that story broke, there was a gasp of Kaspar Hauser-like amazement at Grimes's apparent ignorance of the death of Albert Ayler some 32 years earlier, which, coupled with Marrotte's appeal for "help" for the bassist fuelled sceptical fears on the part of many of us, myself included, that the bassist's inevitable comeback might not be all it was cracked up to be.
How wrong we were. This album is the first to appear under Grimes's name since his phoenix-like return, and it's a scorcher. He couldn't have found better company either, in the form of tenor saxophonist / bass clarinettist David Murray and drummer Hamid Drake - who perhaps more than any other horn player and percussionist have managed to do what Grimes did so spectacularly on the bass before his disappearance back in 1967, i.e. play with consummate virtuosity and astounding musicianship in all styles, in and out from bop to free. Those who doubted whether Grimes, the man who Denis Charles once said could make a bandstand shake ("I thought the bass was going to explode") could regain the strength, the tough skin and sheer muscular coordination, let alone the awesomely swift musical creativity, are invited to check this out at their earliest convenience.
Not only can the man still walk - nay run - all over the instrument but the melodic inventiveness that drove Rollins' Our Man In Jazz forward is as bright and alert as ever.
He nails Murray's "Flowers for Albert", spurring the saxophonist on to what I'm tempted to describe as one of his most inspired performances of recent times (though having been blown away by Murray on more occasions than I care to remember I'll try to rein in the superlatives). You can almost forgive Ayler Records' Jan Strom's inclusion of two whole minutes of ecstatic audience reaction.