William Parker Pays Tribute to Henry Grimes

Source: The Wire.

Henry Grimes was one of greatest musicians in the last century – a bassist and deep listener who opened the door to his inner world every time he was on the bandstand.

He came out of the Philadelphia jazz scene that included a plethora of first generation bass players: Jimmy Garrison, Reggie Workman, Jymie Merritt, Percy Heath and Art Davis. Henry was right in the middle holding up his own, not missing a step with these giants. I was told by the drummer Sonny Murray that many bassists would come by Henry’s house in South Philly for lessons “because Henry Grimes knew his stuff”. He played with many of the more established musicians like Benny Goodman, Stan Getz, Sonny Rollins, Charles Mingus and Thelonius Monk, to the new fire music of Archie Shepp, Albert Ayler, Frank Wright, Charles Tyler and Don Cherry, and to the looking-ahead-sounds of pianist Cecil Taylor. From what I heard on the recordings Henry could have been on all the Blue Note records that came out in the 1960s: he certainly had the credentials and creativity to do so. I personally feel there was something too real in his sound, the way he constructed bass lines always had a freedom that elevated the music into a different dimension. Perhaps a zone only the brave dare go.