David Grundy

  • John Coltrane circa 1965. Photo: Photo by K. Abe/Shinko Music/Getty Images.
    film October 26, 2021

    The New Thing

    JOHN COLTRANE IS OFTEN HELD UP as a sui generis figure, A Love Supreme his magnum opus. Yet overemphasizing the Coltrane’s individual aura obscures the true force behind his music. The release last week of a previously lost live version of A Love Supreme, recorded at the Penthouse Club in Seattle in October 1965, provides an opportunity to redress the balance, locating the saxophonist within a collective history still not often told.

    Throughout the history of jazz, its musicians have been subject to systematically exploitative labor conditions. At the time the Seattle recordings were made,

  • Jemeel Moondoc at the Sons d'Hiver Festival in Arcueil, France, 2016. Photo: Paul Charbit/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images.
    passages September 18, 2021

    Jemeel Moondoc (1946–2021)

    “EVERYTHING ENTERS INTO THIS MUSIC,” the saxophonist Jemeel Moondoc once observed. “It could be anywhere or anything, everything enters into the music.” A self-proclaimed “melodic storyteller,” Moondoc, who died in August a few weeks after his seventy-sixth birthday, was a font of prodigious invention, his nearly fifty-year career in free jazz one of the music’s lasting, though little-known, achievements.

    Born in Chicago in 1946, Moondoc’s surname derived from his great-great-grandfather, the original “moondoctor” who sang, danced, and sold cures in “moonshine medicine shows” at the turn of the

  • Frederic Rzewski. Photo: Michael Wilson.
    passages July 06, 2021

    Frederic Rzewski (1938–2021)

    “MUSIC PROBABLY CANNOT CHANGE THE WORLD,” wrote composer Frederic Rzewski. “But it is a good idea to act as if it could.” Born to parents of Polish descent in Westfield, Massachusetts, he studied music in a series of elite institutions, from the Phillips Academy to Harvard and Princeton. Attending the Darmstadt Summer School in 1956, Rzewski was exposed to serial composition, as well as the more anarchic work of composer-performers John Cage, David Tudor, and Christian Wolff. Studying with Luigi Dallapicolla in Italy (1960–61) and Elliott Carter in Berlin (1963–65), he established an early

  • Cover of N.H. Pritchard’s The Matrix, 1970 (Primary Information, 2021).
    books April 27, 2021

    Matrix Revolutions

    N.H. Pritchard, The Matrix. New York, New York: Primary Information and Ugly Duckling Presse, 2021. 113 pages.

    THE MATRIX is one of the most radical—and most important—books of poetry of the 1960s. It’s also one of the most mysterious. A new facsimile reissue of N. H. Pritchard’s first collection—along with DABA press’s republication of his only other book, EECCHHOOEESS (1971)—provides an opportunity to re-examine an extraordinary and extraordinarily neglected poet whose work continues to evade capture. Born in New York and of West Indian descent, Norman Henry Pritchard II considered attending

  • Milford Graves plays at the 9th annual Vision Festival Avant Jazz for Peace at the Center at St Patrick's Youth Center, New York, New York, May 29, 2004. Photo: Jack Vartoogian/Getty Images.
    passages February 19, 2021

    Milford Graves (1941–2021)

    AS A CHILD IN JAMAICA, Queens, Milford Graves played on tin cans in the woods, “sending signals, trying to get everybody’s attention.” This spirit of adventure, showmanship, and defiance of convention never left him. Beginning on conga drums, he learned about Afro-Cuban music through a distant cousin, viewing it as the missing link between bebop and the African diaspora, and studied with tabla player Wasantha Singh. Forming a Latin group with pianist Chick Corea, who predeceased him by a matter of days, he gravitated toward jazz for its greater harmonic openness, switching from conga and timbales

  • Jacques Coursil in the Studio, 2019. Photo: Raisa Galofre.
    passages July 28, 2020

    Jacques Coursil (1938–2020)

    “YOU CANNOT BE AN ARTIST,” said the trumpeter, scholar, and world-traveler Jacques Coursil, “if you don’t have one foot on the ground and the other outside the planet.” Pursuing a career across three continents, he and his work embodied the principles of Black diasporic internationalism. Opposed to the notion of roots as guarantor of authenticity, he nonetheless traversed the routes of world history. “I don’t like identity things,” he insisted. “I don’t have to claim where I am from, it’s so evident.”

    Coursil was born in Paris in 1938 to Martinican parents, his father a trade unionist and member

  • Anthony Braxton at Cafe OTO, London, January 2020. Photo: Dawid Laskowski.
    music February 26, 2020

    Old Friends

    ANTHONY BRAXTON HAS TACKLED JAZZ STANDARDS throughout his career: from an unexpected mid-’70s appearance alongside his hero Lee Konitz on an obscure Dave Brubeck record, to outstanding recordings with Hank Jones and Mal Waldron, to a hefty eleven disc box set of sixty-eight Charlie Parker pieces. “I did the music because I love that music, I love that period, that is my lineage,” he told Graham Lock in 1985. Standards, for Braxton, are not some sort of side project or way of proving himself as a “legitimate” jazz musician. Instead, they are tools for responding to the history of the diverse

  • Art Ensemble of Chicago 50th Anniversary. Barbican Centre, November 23, 2019. Photo: Mark Allan / Barbican.
    music December 24, 2019

    Power Players

    FROM ITS FOUNDATION IN 1969, the Art Ensemble of Chicago was always more than “jazz,” more than a quintet, and more than the sum of its parts. Like the slogan of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) from which it emerged, the group has been “a power stronger than itself.” Its flexible approaches to ensemble-building and to ways of thinking collectively have taken its musicians from early days, scraping it together in post–May ’68 Paris, to sold-out gigs in concert halls around the world. While predecessors such as Eric Dolphy and John Coltrane had played on an array