John Grimes is a classical percussionist who since the '90s has been based in New England, his regular commitments including Boston's Handel and Haydn Society, with whom he performs as principal timpanist. There is quite a variety in the type of instruments a percussionist such as this deems worthy of banging or thumping on, and Grimes stretches things to the limit through his involvement with the music of the eccentric and innovative American composer Harry Partch.
Partch is best known for having felt the necessity to invent his own collection of instruments to perform his music, a repertoire that includes pieces focusing on percussion and eerie stringed instruments as well as settings based on both ancient Greek tragedy and Depression-era American hobo lore. Several releases on the Innova label have featured Grimes as a member of ensembles performing on Partch's instrumental arsenal, including percussion devices such as a bass marimba made out of bamboo and the far-out "cloud chamber bowl." Grimes is of course just as comfortable with the traditional standard classical repertoire; a review of a Beethoven performance in 2004 praised the percussionist's adept presentation of a particularly intricate passage executed by timpani and keyboard.