Milford Graves - Michael Ehlers previews three previously unreleased pieces from the archive.

In a January 2022 feature in the Wire, Michael Ehlers discusses three previously unreleased recordings from the archives of the late Milford Graves. The music is drawn from current and upcoming releases that will be produced by Black Editions Archive (BEA).

Milford Graves. Photo: Michael Wilderman/jazzvisionsphotos

Listen: exclusive Milford Graves treasures from the Black Editions Archive

January 2022 - The Wire Magazine


Co-producer Michael Ehlers introduces unheard recordings as part of BEA’s project documenting the late percussionist


Black Editions Archive is a new imprint of Los Angeles’s Black Editions Group. Its focus is historical free jazz, with a particular emphasis on previously unheard recordings featuring Milford Graves. During his lifetime, the percussionist (and theorist, herbalist and martial arts practitioner) was extremely selective about releasing his music; subsequently there has been minimal documentation of his important work. In the final year of his life, Graves opened his personal archive to BEA, and saxophonist Peter Brötzmann offered recordings with Graves from the Brö records archive. Listen below to exclusive excerpts from works in progress and a complete recording from the first Black Editions Archive release, Historic Music Past Tense Future, with accompanying notes by Michael Ehlers of Black Editions Archive (and the Eremite and Brö labels).


Peter Brötzmann/Milford Graves/William Parker

Historic Music Past Tense Future (2002)

The trio of Peter Brötzmann, Milford Graves and William Parker played a grand total of three times, in 1985, 1988 and 2002. All three were concert performances that took place below 8th Street in Manhattan. The 2002 concert happened in the front room of CBGB, known at the time as Gallery 313. This piece, a complete side of the first BEA release, the double LP Historic Music Past Tense Future, is from the first of two sets. Bringing Peter Brötzmann and Milford Graves together was a meeting of archetypes – force on force. Brötzmann is on alto saxophone here and it sounds to me like the horn just might explode in his hands (I dig Peter on alto so much that I stashed a couple at my house for his North America tours). It didn’t appear that Graves had much use for bassists until William Parker came along. Parker is his characteristically brilliant self here, finding expressive spaces in the density of Graves and Brötzmann's barrages. The unique sonic presence of Graves’s kit is really captured on this recording: no bottom drum heads, bongos added to the top-mounted toms, blazing double kick drums and the snare permanently in the off position. This was one of those nights for the ages.


For additional for unreleased music and notes, please visit The Wire Magazine for the full piece.

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