Milford Graves

Stories

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Milford Graves is a fantastic drummer for whom the simple act of hitting a drum calls for his whole body and mind to take over. He lives, thinks, and expresses himself through his contact with resounding objects. All he needed was an album that would do justice to his art. He had come close to it in 1998 with Grand Unification, his first solo CD for John Zorn's Tzadik label. With Stories, he might have recorded the best solo percussion album ever. On this playground, there are no limits to what Graves can do, but no artifices to alter the sound. The recording quality is incredible, better than on the previous album. Nothing is lost in the mix; everything comes through pure and lively. This is the first time Graves has been recorded so faithfully. The performances themselves also belong to the man's best work. The first half of the CD is comprised of five short pieces, while the second half contains "Evolving Pathways," a 32-minute tour de force where Graves entertains, touches, surprises, and shows ubiquitous talents (no, there are no overdubs). He sings and talks throughout, totally captured by his own playing, never resorting to a fixed rhythm or organized structure, the music flowing in organic waves. The listener follows, captivated by the virtuosity, taken over by the powerful poetry of the percussionist. Traditional music categories like "world music," "jazz," or even "avant-garde" crumble miserably into dust as Graves pours his heart and soul into his playing, proving that all music is contained in the art of percussion. Very strongly recommended to anyone interested in percussion or simply wanting to hear what "totally uninhibited expression" really means.

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