Archives for posts with tag: Henry Grimes

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Photo: Francisco Mora Catlett, one of many performers at Justice is Compassion: Not a Police State.| Joyce Jones. Some Rights Reserved. Creative Commons CC-NC-BY-ND.
 
Words by Hank Williams
 
We’ve been spending lots of time lately covering the 2017 Winter Jazz Fest—with good reason, I’d argue, since it’s an annual blowout of experimental music. With WJF almost a wrap for this year, it’s time to turn to other venues to get your musical fix.
 
Fortunately, Arts for Art, best known for their annual Vision Fest which has become a mainstay of the avant garde music scene, is firing back with a series of their own. And–in true Arts for Art fashion—are operating on the principle that more is better (which in their case is usually true) and sponsoring a 3-week festival of their own. “Justice is Compassion: Not a Police State” is the latest incarnation of their long running Evolving music series that rolls around this time of year.
 
As with everything Arts for Art does, politics is front and center with the festival and deeply ingrained, not something tacked on at the last minute.
 

Justice is Compassion also stays true to another Arts for Art trait: while it centers the music, it gives time to dance, poetry, and visual art

Justice is Compassion also stays true to another Arts for Art trait: while it centers the music, it gives time to dance, poetry, and visual art as well. Jo Wood-Brown’s “Oasis Paintings” are on display throughout the festival and there are poetry sets on various days by Jesus Papoleto Melendez, Patricia Spears-Jones, David Mills, Yuko Otomo, and Steve Dalachinsky. Dance fans can look to Patricia Nicholson Parker and Miriam Parker, who’ll both be performing in separate sets.
 
All of this happens in Clemente Soto Velez Center, at 107 Suffolk St, just off Houston on the Lower East Side.
 
There are way too many musicians and sets to name here, with events nearly every night until January 22nd, but the personnel will be familiar to those who know Vision Fest. If you’re not, that’s fine, too, but expect a wide variety of artists–both young and old—and some who should be much better known than they are, like the incredibly prolific bassist William Parker, who’s a mainstay of the avant garde, and fellow bassist Henry Grimes, who’s been a key person on the scene since his reappearance on the avant garde jazz landscape a decade ago.
 
We’re looking forward to drummer/percussionist Francisco Mora- Catlett’s set on January 19, leading his AfroHORN ensemble.
 
The closing night on January 22nd features a finale helmed by Henry Grimes with what looks to be a wide assortment of artists from the fest and promises to be a freewheeling jam session and the type of blowout usually reserved for the last day of the summer’s Vision Fest. It’s titled “Heal and Resist”, which is an excellent note to go forward on in uncertain times.
 
See the entire schedule at the Arts for Art website.
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Hank Williams is an associate producer for Suga’ in My Bowl on WBAI Radio and webmaster for the Suga’ and Behind the Mic sites. He is also a PhD candidate in English and Africana Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center and teaches at Hunter and Lehman Colleges and The City College of New York. Find him on Twitter @streetgriot

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bandstand_picPhoto Credit: Hank Williams

Welcome to Suga in My Bowl radio‘s weekly feature, On The Bandstand, where we collect upcoming NYC area shows from current and past Suga’ guests. We’re online weekly and on the air on NYC’s WBAI-FM radio alternate Sunday nights from 11 PM -1 AM. Keep up with us via Facebook, the blog here, or our main website, or Twitter and we’ll keep track of the schedule for you.
 
This week’s show features bassist Dave Holland! You can see him at Birdland this week from November 29th to December 3rd. And let’s get to our music listings.
 
Bassist Mimi Jones leads a jam session in the late set at Smoke on November 28th, December 5th, and continuing on Monday nights.
 
Drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts is at St. Peter’s Church in Manhattan on November 29 with several other musicians for a benefit concert for the Syrian American Medical Society.
 
Guitarist Marc Ribot has a residency at The Stone from November 30 – December 4. Bassist Henry Grimes joins him for a trio on the 1st and drummer Milford Graves joins him for the late set on the 3rd.
 
Also joining Chick Corea at The Blue Note is saxophonist Ravi Coltrane for a Return to Forever tribute from the 30th-December 4th.
 
Drummer Terri Lyne Carrington is at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem on December 1st for a discussion about her music.
 
Saxophonist David Murray is at Lincoln Center’s Rubenstein Atrium for a free concert on December 1st.
 
Pianist and keyboardist Marc Cary leads the Harlem Sessions at Ginny’s Supper Club on December 1st.
 
Pianist Randy Weston leads the African Rhythms Quintet with bassist Alex Blake and saxophonist Billy Harper at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Dizzy’s Club on the 2nd.
 
Saxophonist Gary Bartz is at The Blue Note on December 5-6 with pianist McCoy Tyner.
 
The documentary film The Amazing Nina Simone will be shown at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem on December 6.
 
Pianist Barry Harris leads a trio at the Village Vanguard from December 6-13.
 
Vocalist/guitarist Toshi Reagon will be at HarlemStage from December 7-11 for “Can I Get a Witness: The Gospel of James Baldwin”.
 
Drummer and percussionist Bobby Sanabria is at the Baruch College Performing Arts Center with Gene Marlow’s Heritage Ensemble on December 8.
 
Saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin is at Lincoln Center’s Rubenstein Atrium for a free concert on December 8th.
 
Drummer and percussionist Will Calhoun’s gallery exhibit of his visual art collaboration Aza is on view at the Bronx Music Heritage Center through February 11. We reviewed the show earlier this year.
 
Finally, looking much further ahead, the Winter Jazz Fest has released a teaser and preliminary lineup for the 2017 shinding from January 5-10! We’ll have a lot more to say about it, but for now, we’ll point you to their promo video with the highlights.
 

That’s all for now. Suga’ in My Bowl is scheduled to be back on WBAI‘s airwaves on December 11. We’ll also have another edition of “On the Bandstand” online next Sunday with a fresh set of listings.
 
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Hank Williams is an associate producer for Suga’ in My Bowl on WBAI Radio and webmaster for the Suga’ and Behind the Mic sites. He is also a PhD candidate in English and Africana Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center and teaches at Hunter and Lehman Colleges and The City College of New York.

bandstand_picPhoto Credit: Hank Williams

Welcome to Suga in My Bowl radio‘s weekly feature, On The Bandstand, where we collect upcoming NYC area shows from current and past Suga’ guests. We’re online weekly and on the air on NYC’s WBAI-FM radio alternate Sunday nights from 11 PM -1 AM. Keep up with us via Facebook, the blog here, or our main website, or Twitter and we’ll keep track of the schedule for you.
 
We’re off this week, but head on over to our archives for last week’s John Coltrane-focused show and nearly 7 years of archived shows. You can also pledge for the Pacifica Radio Archives-produced 2-CD John Coltrane audio documentary that features a rare, famous interview with Coltrane by Frank Kofsky. And let’s get to our music listings.
 
Saxophonist Gary Bartz is at The Blue Note on November 21st with trumpeter Wallace Roney and on December 5-6 with pianist McCoy Tyner.
 
Vibraphonist Gary Burton joins pianist Chick Corea at The Blue Note for a Miles Davis tribute from November 22-23.
 
Also joining Chick Corea at The Blue Note is saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, from the 25-27th and for a Return to Forever tribute from the 30th-December 4th.
 
Bassist Henry Grimes is at Harlem’s Rendall Memorial Presbyterian Church on the 25th.
 
Low brass specialist on tuba Joe Daley will be at Terra Blues with Hazmat Modine on November 26th.
 
Drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts is at St. Peter’s Church in Manhattan on November 29 with several other musicians for a benefit concert for the Syrian American Medical Society.
 
Guitarist Marc Ribot has a residency at The Stone from November 29 – December 4. Drummer Milford Graves joins him for the late set on the 3rd.
 
Also at The Blue Note is saxophonist Kenny Garrett as part of pianist Chick Corea’s Miles Davis tribute from October 26-30.
 
Drummer Terri Lyne Carrington is at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem on December 1st for a discussion about her music.
 
Pianist and keyboardist Marc Cary leads the Harlem Sessions at Ginny’s Supper Club on December 1st.
 
Drummer and percussionist Will Calhoun’s gallery exhibit of his visual art collaboration Aza is on view at the Bronx Music Heritage Center through February 11. We reviewed the show earlier this year.
 
Finally, looking much further ahead, the Winter Jazz Fest has released a teaser and preliminary lineup for the 2017 shinding from January 5-10! We’ll have a lot more to say about it, but for now, we’ll point you to their promo video with the highlights.
 

That’s all for now. Suga’ in My Bowl is scheduled to be back on WBAI‘s airwaves on November 27. We’ll also have another edition of “On the Bandstand” online next Sunday with a fresh set of listings.
 
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Hank Williams is an associate producer for Suga’ in My Bowl on WBAI Radio and webmaster for the Suga’ and Behind the Mic sites. He is also a PhD candidate in English and Africana Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center and teaches at Hunter and Lehman Colleges and The City College of New York.

bandstand_picPhoto Credit: Hank Williams

Welcome to Suga in My Bowl radio‘s weekly feature, On The Bandstand, where we collect upcoming NYC area shows from current and past Suga’ guests. We’re online weekly and on the air on NYC’s WBAI-FM radio alternate Sunday nights from 11 PM -1 AM. Keep up with us via Facebook, the blog here, or our main website, or Twitter and we’ll keep track of the schedule for you.
 
This week’s show features John Schienfeld, director of Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary. You can see it on the 17th at the SVA Theater in Manhattan as part of the DOC NYC Festival. Also, thanks to any of you who supported us during WBAI’s Fall Fund Drive and if you didn’t get around to it, it’s not too late. You can also pledge for the Pacifica Radio Archives-produced 2-CD John Coltrane audio documentary that features a rare, famous interview with Coltrane by Frank Kofsky. And let’s get to our music listings.
 
Pianist and keyboardist Marc Cary leads a trio at Smoke on November 14th.
 
Saxophonist Gary Bartz is at The Blue Note on November 14 with pianist McCoy Tyner and on the 21st with trumpeter Wallace Roney.
 
Pianist Michele Rosewoman is at the National Jazz Museum in Harlem for a talk on the Afro Cuban beat on November 15.
 
Harpist Brandee Younger is at Newark NJ’s Gateway Center for a lunchtime set on November 16 as part of the James Moody Jazz Festival.
 
Pianist Harold Mabern leads a trio at Smalls on the 16th.
 
The new documentary film Chasing ‘Trane is screening at the SVA Theater on 23rd St in Manhattan on November 17 as part of the DOC NYC Film Festival. Director John Scheinfeld is scheduled to attend and advance tickets are highly recommended.
 
Percussionist Steve Kroon leads a sextet at Smoke on November 17.
 
Drummer and percussionist Bobby Sanabria leads the Multiverse Big Band at Aaron Davis Hall on The City College of New York’s Harlem campus on November 18 for a birthday tribute and retirement celebration for legendary percussionist Candido Camero.
 
Bassist Christian McBride leads a James Brown tribute at The New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark on November 18 as part of the James Moody Jazz Festival.
 
Bassist Christian McBride and Vocalist Dianne Reeves are at The New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark on November 19 for a Sarah Vaughn tribute as part of the James Moody Jazz Festival.
 
Vibraphonist Gary Burton joins pianist Chick Corea at The Blue Note for a Miles Davis tribute from November 22-23.
 
Also joining Chick Corea at The Blue Note is saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, from the 25-27th and for a Return to Forever tribute from the 30th-December 4th.
 
Bassist Henry Grimes is at Harlem’s Rendall Memorial Presbyterian Church on the 25th.
 
Low brass specialist on tuba Joe Daley will be at Terra Blues with Hazmat Modine on November 26th.
 
Drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts is at St. Peter’s Church in Manhattan on November 29 with several other musicians for a benefit concert for the Syrian American Medical Society.
 
Drummer and percussionist Will Calhoun’s gallery exhibit of his visual art collaboration Aza is on view at the Bronx Music Heritage Center through February 11. We reviewed the show earlier this year.
 
Finally, looking much further ahead, the Winter Jazz Fest has released a teaser and preliminary lineup for the 2017 shinding from January 5-10! We’ll have a lot more to say about it, but for now, we’ll point you to their promo video with the highlights.
 

That’s all for now. Suga’ in My Bowl is scheduled to be back on WBAI‘s airwaves on November 27. We’ll also have another edition of “On the Bandstand” online next Sunday with a fresh set of listings.
 
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Hank Williams is an associate producer for Suga’ in My Bowl on WBAI Radio and webmaster for the Suga’ and Behind the Mic sites. He is also a PhD candidate in English and Africana Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center and teaches at Hunter and Lehman Colleges and The City College of New York.

bandstand_picPhoto Credit: Hank Williams

Welcome to Suga in My Bowl radio‘s weekly feature, On The Bandstand, where we collect upcoming NYC area shows from current and past Suga’ guests. We’re online weekly and on the air on NYC’s WBAI-FM radio alternate Sunday nights from 11 PM -1 AM. Keep up with us via Facebook, the blog here, or our main website, or Twitter and we’ll keep track of the schedule for you.
 
We’re off this week, but if you missed last week’s show with drummer and percussionist Milford Graves, head on over to our audio archives and check it out. Meanwhile, the music rolls on as the fall begins to settle in.
 
Vision Fest promoters Arts for Art present a short series on Race and Resistance at El Taller Latinoamericano from October 10-12. Highlights include a talk on October 11th moderated by Suga in My Bowl host Joyce Jones and featuring poet Jesus Papoleto Melendez and dancer Patricia Nicholson Parker on the topic of Race and Resistance. Melendez also reads his poetry later that night. Bassist William Parker and drummer Hamid Drake appear in a trio on the 12th. See the full schedule and details at their website.
 
Saxophonist Marshall Allen makes a rare non-Arkestra appearance at The Stone on October 12 with the UB313 ensemble.
 
Pianist and keyboardist Marc Cary hosts the Harlem Sessions at Ginny’s Supper Club on October 13 and 27th.
 
Drummer and percussionist Bobby Sanabria leads Quarteto Ache at Clem’s Place in Newark NJ the 14th and is at the Brooklyn Heights Public Library for a free afternoon show with Gene Marlow’s Heritage Ensemble on the 15th.
 
Saxophonists Billy Harper and David Murray are at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Appel Room on October 14-15 with pianist Elio Villafranca’s “Letters to Mother Africa”.
 
Trombonist Craig Harris is at Harlem’s Rendall Memorial Presbyterian Church on October 14th and 21st.
 
Low brass specialist on tuba Joe Daley is at Terra Blues with Hazmat Modine on October 15th.
 
Saxophonist Oliver Lake is at Roulette in Brooklyn for the Passin’ Thru Festival on October 16-17. He leads a big band on the 16th and is joined by fellow TRIO3 collaborators bassist Reggie Workman and drummer Andrew Cyrille on the 17th.
 
BRIC Arts Media’s second annual Jazz Festival runs through October 15 at the BRIC Media House in downtown Brooklyn. There are free concerts on the 11-12 followed by three marathon nights of jazz from the 13-15 with saxophonist David Murray’s Infinity Quartet, saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin and the Soulsquad, guitarist Julian Lage’s trio, pianist and keyboardist Marc Cary, and guitarist Marc Ribot’s trio with bassist Henry Grimes among many other acts. The full schedule is up on the BRIC Arts media website and see our own preview for more details.
 
Pianist Vijay Iyer will be at the McCarter Theater in Princeton NJ on Oct. 21 and Columbia University’s Miller Theater on the 22nd.
 
Vocalist Catherine Russell is at the McCarter Theater on October 22nd.
 
Drummer and percussionist Will Calhoun is at Applehead Recording in Saugerties NY for a session with the Zig Zag Power Trio on the 22nd.
 
Drummer Roy Haynes is at The Blue Note on October 24-25.
 
Drummer and percussionist Will Calhoun’s gallery exhibit of his visual art collaboration Aza is on view at the Bronx Music Heritage Center through February 11. We reviewed the show earlier this year.
 
Finally, the Jazz Loft According to W Eugene Smith documentary film is running at the Metrograph Theater. See our review from a screening last year.
 
That’s all for now. Suga’ in My Bowl is back on WBAI‘s airwaves on October 16. We’ll also have another edition of “On the Bandstand” online next Sunday with a fresh set of listings.
 
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Hank Williams is an associate producer for Suga’ in My Bowl on WBAI Radio and webmaster for the Suga’ and Behind the Mic sites. He is also a PhD candidate in English and Africana Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center and teaches at Hunter and Lehman Colleges and The City College of New York.

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Words by Hank Williams | Photos by Joyce Jones. Creative Commons CC-NC-BY-ND. Main Photo: Vision Fest 21 honoree Henry Grimes
 
Bassist/violinist/poet Henry Grimes famously doesn’t talk much nowadays: at least not to journalists like myself. To be perfectly clear, it isn’t an issue of him being inaccessible or thinking he’s too good or his time is too valuable: on the contrary, he’s usually in attendance at almost any event having to do with free/avant garde jazz in New York City–usually with his wife and manager Margaret at his side–and is just there digging the music even if he isn’t on the bill or has finished his own set. It’s just that he doesn’t talk a lot, period. An affable smile and recognition is all you’re likely to get. That’s fine since his body of work fills in much of the story. Still, those of us itching to dig deeper and get some of the history he’s been involved in won’t walk away with much more than we see on the bandstand.
 
Personal testimony isn’t the only story, though, and what your peers say about you counts for a lot. And Grimes’s peers have a lot to say about both the man and his work, which makes focusing the 2016 Vision Fest’s spotlight on Grimes all the more valuable since you’d be hard pressed to find someone with bad things to say about the man as either a person or musician. That’s rare in any industry.
 
Grimes’s remarkable story of walking away from the jazz spotlight before reemerging 35 years later has been told elsewhere, so I won’t repeat it here. The point is that Grimes is the type of artist who’s easy to overlook if one isn’t deep into jazz — much less the free improvisation that he revels and excels in. All of that makes Vision’s choice to highlight his career this year a good one, especially since he’s been a mainstay at the festival since his return to high level performance was punctuated by a Vision appearance over a decade ago and he’s been a mainstay ever since.
 
Grimes stood on the bandstand throughout three sets to kick off Vision on Tuesday night as both the honoree and center–figuratively and literally, as he occupied center stage–of all of the performances.
 
After Vision’s traditional opening invocation, the evening started with an ensemble pairing Grimes with pianist Geri Allen (in her Vision debut), Vision veteran Andrew Cyrille (who’ll be interviewed on Suga’ in My Bowl on Sunday 6/12) on drums, and Graham Haynes on coronet. Grimes alternated between bass and violin, showing equal comfort on each instrument. Allen showed, unsurprisingly, that she can keep up with the best improvisers out there and is as adept at playing more freely as she is in more structured environments. Cyrille, meanwhile, added a solid base for the group’s explorations and punctuated their second song with a steady rhythm on the cowbell.
 
Grimes has also written a fair amount of poetry, which was the focus of the second set, featuring vocalist Lisa Sokolov’s songs and Grimes’s poetry. Grimes accompanied the Sokolov-led choir of Imani Uzuri, Karma Mayet Johnson, Dwight Trible, and Mixashawn.
 
The night’s final set featured Mixashawn on saxophone, Melanie Dyer on viola, flutist Nicole Mitchell, and cellist Tomeka Reid joining Grimes’s frequent trio collaborators guitarist Marc Ribot and drummer Chad Taylor. The ensemble produced some of the night’s memorable performances. The first song of the set built to a crescendo riffing off of Mitchell’s repeated flute phrase with Ribot filling in the colors while Grimes kept a steady hand on bass. The set’s third (and last) piece started with a solid beat by Taylor, joined by Mitchell, then Ribot and Grimes. Taylor’s steady rhythms kept driving the group forward as they all set a frenetic pace.
 
Through it all, Grimes remained impassive, focused intently on the music at hand. While he may be a man of few words, Grimes “speaks” loudly and authoritatively on bass, violin, and written words. All of which were on display tonight.
 
We’ll be reporting from Vision throughout the festival and I’ll have a wrap-up when it’s all done. If you haven’t caught it already, you can hear our Vision Fest preview show with Marc Ribot, Geri Allen, Lisa Sokolov, and Andrew Cyrille discussing Grimes’s influence and festival organizer Patricia Nicholson Parker talking festival logistics, which she’ll probably discuss on our colleague Basir Mchawi’s Education at the Crossroads show on Thursday at 7 PM EST. And, remember our next Suga’ in My Bowl show with Andrew Cyrille this Sunday at 11 PM EST on WBAI.
 


 
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Hank Williams is an associate producer for Suga’ in My Bowl on WBAI Radio and webmaster for the Suga’ and Behind the Mic sites. He is also a PhD candidate in English and Africana Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center and teaches at Hunter and Lehman Colleges and The City College of New York.
 
Joyce Jones is the executive producer and host of Suga’ in My Bowl. She is a graphic designer and her photos have been published in Black Renaissance Noir.

Vision21
 
Suga’ in My Bowl host Joyce Jones and I refer to the annual Vision Fest as the high holy days of jazz and we’re only half-kidding. The festival has managed to outlast competing fests with much deeper pockets and big name corporate sponsors behind them while still managing the delicate balancing act between being a smaller artist-focused event willing to take risks and keeping up with the times and technology. So while you can now buy tickets online and follow their various social media feeds, Vision is unafraid to feature poets in prime time slots or book quirky acts. It’s all part of the scene and that’s why we’ve been going for several years now and have featured numerous performers as guests on the show. In full disclosure, WBAI Radio returns as a media sponsor this year and happily so: it fits the station’s vibe fairly well.
 
Suga’ in My Bowl previewed this year’s festival in our last show, interviewing festival organizer Patricia Nicholson Parker for a “big picture” view, along with pianist Geri Allen (in her first time Vision appearance), guitarist Marc Ribot, drummer Andrew Cyrille and composer/vocalist Lisa Sokolof all speaking on the influence and importance of bassist Henry Grimes. If you missed that, be sure to catch WBAI producer Basir Mchawi’s Education at the Crossroads show on Thursday June 9 st 7 PM EST, where Patricia Nicholson Parker will be giving an update.
 
Vision started on Sunday June 5th with 3 classic films celebrating the 60th year of the Sun Ra Arkestra at Anthology Film Archives. While none of the film’s are new, provided a good opportunity to see John Coney/Sun Ra’s Space is the Place, The Magic Sun, or Robert Mugge’s Sun Ra: A Joyful Noise again. Mugge’s documentary has aged well and does about as good a job as anyone could of giving a broad overview of Ra himself and the Arkestra. Coney’s film, on the other hand, is pure fun: a sci-fi/Blaxploitation mashup that’s the ultimate fan experience.
 
Vision settles in for the week at Judson Memorial Church from the 7-12 with nightly performances highlighting the career of bassist Henry Grimes. It retains its usual informal atmosphere and you’re likely to see musicians hanging out and checking out other sets. Everything happens in the main upstairs space, while the basement houses a marketplace and food vendors. It’s a good place to pick up some of the music you’ll hear over the course of the week and you can usually even get your CD autographed, too!
 
Tuesday night is all about this year’s Vision honoree: bassist/violinist Henry Grimes. Grimes leads two groups over the course of the evening and participates in a third. Pianist Geri Allen and drummer Andrew Cyrille join Grimes for the first set, while the final set of the night features a Grimes-led septet as an expended version of Marc Ribot’s trio with Grimes and drummer Chad Taylor, whose collaboration was captured in the 2014 Live at the Village Vanguard release.
 
Grimes’s story is a remarkable one. He was in high demand in the 1960s, especially in the free jazz scene, where he played with notables like Sunny Murray, Sonny Rollins, Pharoah Sanders, Archie Shepp, and Cecil Taylor — to name only a few. Grimes suddenly dropped out of the music scene after getting stuck in Los Angeles with a broken bass he had no money to repair before being rediscovered. Bassist William Parker sent Grimes one of his basses and Grimes practiced feverishly to prepare for his reemergence on the jazz scene. Appropriately enough, his big return to New York was punctuated by a performance at the 2003 Vision Fest and he’s been a regular ever since.
 

 
Wednesday night has poet Quincy Troupe (who we talked to in May for a Miles Davis birthday show) given his own slot to read some of his work in prime time. Pianist Connie Crothers then leads a trio as a lead-in to the night’s closing act: the Sun Ra Arkestra led by the 92 year old saxophonist Marshall Allen.
 
While the Arkestra can be wildly uneven in the quality of their performances, they’ve been solid lately, including at last year’s Vision where they closed an evening with a phenomenal show, at the Winter Jazz Fest earlier this year, where they brought the house down with a midnight set at Judson Memorial Church, and an inspired performance at a Red Bull Music Academy-sponsored “Night of Spiritual Jazz” earlier this year. Much of what I wrote for their Winter Jazz Fest date still applies, including the vitality that vocalist Tara Middleton has brought to the ensemble. I’d add that the Arkestra is actually a perfect intro for people new to jazz and while they have showmanship and performance honed to a science, their level of performance lately has been high. Fortunately, you won’t have to stay up all night to see the Arkestra do their thing this time, since the scheduled descent to Earth is at a relatively early 9:40 PM.
 

 
Thursday night’s lineup starts with multi-instrumentalist Bill Cole, who leads his “UnTempered Ensemble” featuring saxophonist Ras Moshe–who channels the spirit of John Coltrane with nearly every breath he takes–followed by Vision veteran saxophonist Jemeel Moondoc’s ensemble and a first Vision appearance by poet Tonya Foster.
 
Trombonist Steve Swell leads a trio as a lead-in for the night’s closing set with drummer/percussionist Hamid Drake (who we profiled in 2014) backed by an all-star cast of saxophonist Kidd Jordan, pianist Cooper-Moore, and bassist Michael Bisio.
 
Friday night’s lineup has early sets of ensembles led by drummer William Hooker and pianist Cooper-Moore before a closing set with pianist Michele Rosewoman’s “New Yor-Uba” ensemble. We profiled Rosewoman in 2013, for the CD release of her New Yor-Uba project. Look for an inspired spiritual set from Rosewoman, as she blends Yoruba songs with jazz improvisation and expect a special touch of freedom for the Vision crowd.
 

 
Saturday night’s lineup highlights saxophonist Hamiett Bluiett and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, each leading ensembles. Bluiett wrapped up last year’s Vision on the last night leading a rousing performance with a cast so large that it spilled off the stage and needed to commandeer space on the floor to accommodate everyone. It was a grand vision (pun unintentional) of swirling sounds that captured much of what the festival is about. The enormity of the sound produced nearly shook the building at times. Expect a slightly less magisterial treatment this year, as he “only” leads a quartet, however, with solid backing from pianist DD Jackson and drummer Hamid Drake, expect a wild ride.
 
Sunday night’s lineup has saxophonist Kidd Jordan’s ensemble given the duties of closing out the festival: an honor Jordan’s been tasked with before and handled brilliantly.
 
I can only scratch the surface here while keeping this a readable length (and may have failed in the latter already). Check the full schedule to see all the acts with our preliminary recommendations in mind. My ultimate recommendation is to show up, watch, listen, and just get lost in the atmosphere. I always walk away from Vision blown away by someone I was vaguely aware of beforehand, but that’s the magic of this festival.
 
We wrap our coverage with a show interviewing drummer Andrew Cyrille on Sunday June 12 from 11 PM – 1 AM EST on WBAI. If you scoot home quickly after the Kidd Jordan set, you’ll be able to catch the tail end before calling it a night and wrapping it all up until this time next year. If you miss it, not to worry: we archive shows on our website.
 
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Hank Williams is an associate producer for Suga’ in My Bowl on WBAI Radio and webmaster for the Suga’ and Behind the Mic sites. He is also a PhD candidate in English and Africana Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center and teaches at Hunter and Lehman Colleges and The City College of New York.

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