HENRY GRIMES

Michael Jackson, Chicago


M5: It's been 2 years since your return to the public stage of jazz as a bassist. What's it like so far, how do you experience playing bass in the USA and Europe again, meeting new and young musicians, people etc etc?

HG: The public stage has evolved, and as far as the bassists are concerned, there are so many young bassists on the scene playing their own original ideas in music that it's amazing. I feel I'm meeting the newer generations head-on, and it's a very exhilarating and thrilling and interesting feeling.

M5: In your thirty years of 'absence', and comparing the world of jazz as you knew it back in the 50s-60s, your view on things can be very lucid, since you've not been an active part of the musical environment for so long. You could see things as an observer, with the knowledge and experience from 'way back when' in mind. In that respect, how would you describe the vibes of jazz in these first years of the Millennium, if jazz were a language, how well do you feel people understand or speak it, did it grow over the years?

HG: I think jazz has grown over the years to the extent of being a new cosmic force in the universe, and that's because jazz always had the image and force of power about it, so when you talk about jazz, you talk about art being experienced way out in front of itself. People feel, understand, and speak jazz before they know other languages or things of language.

M5: Your biography mentions your talents/skills as an artist, your comic strip was something people looked forward to in your Mastbaum school days. Being a man of few words, as they say, do you feel your music is like painting in colors and sounds, a dialogue with fellow-musicians and the audience perhaps? And do you still draw or sketch or paint nowadays?

HG: I still do some sketching and painting and I enjoy writing poetry. I don't know if you have one of my new solo bass CD's, but I draw the cover designs for each one individually. I love putting colors and sounds together. They make me perspectively young in my own fields of endeavor.

M5: Yes, I also read you've been writing poetry in those 'lost' years. Would it be too much to ask whether you'd be willing to share some of your poems, or one of them?

HG: I'd like to be able to share all of my writings if I can. I'm one of the kind of poets who has a hundred or more handwritten manuscripts, and I'd be willing to share them with everyone when we find a publisher. The Vision Festival published one of my poems at last year's festival, and here it is:

IN CASE THE PLACE SHOULD CHANGE - Henry Grimes

Our earth

was safe -- once

incumbrent as the

veneering seas


that part of day --

when underneath

to see years burn

beneath

the colors


haze that reaches

under all illusion

blue smoke azures

a mountain's plane.


You can see them --

haze calls green

and beige and

yellow;


all set in turn

uncastrate as if

in case therein the

place should change.


M5: You're turning 70 this year and are in 'full bloom' as a musician... Did you 'pick up where you left off' or 'start over again', what would be the most appropriate?

HG: I picked right up from where I left off.

M5: Is it fair to say that the jazz you were playing, experimenting with before you 'vanished' into anonymity, doesn't age over time? Unlike yourself, somehow, some way? And what was of major influence to you, in those 30 years, living a life being Henry Grimes, but not the musician Henry Grimes ...

HG: It's fair to say that it was a matter of experimenting with the music I used to play in the '6O's, along with just about every other new musician playing the new-wave music. Before those 3O years, everybody was young, and now all of those musicians have grown to full age, and I feel many of them are rich now compared to their circumstances back then. But everybody loved it, musicians and artists. A major influence to me during those 3O years was the writing of poetry and prose; it occupied a place within me that you can say is somewhat the same place I felt and experienced as a musician. I brushed up on my yoga during the 3O years. But then I came back on the scene, a visionary of music and art ...

M5: Your music and bass-playing touches many hearts and generations even, can you understand it if people consider you as a symbol or 'living proof' for which is seen as the true essence of jazz?

HG: Yes! Those symbols of life are with us and will be with us for a long time to come, and it shows the true essence of jazz, a state of art, a state of mind, and a state of heart and soul.




[back to Mizar5| M5 Interviews]