The Henry Grimes gig Thursday night at the Bohemian was an improvisational journey through every nook and crevice of jazz music. Every thought and sound that emanated from the musicians' instruments was made up on the spot; the music was so flawlessly executed, it sounded like a meticulously composed suite the trio had been working on and rehearsing for years.
I thought the first set would never end. Grimes, trumpeter Roy Campbell, Jr. and drummer Chad Taylor played, I kid you not, 50 minutes of improvised jazz music without once coming up for air. Dressed in a black double-breasted suit with a black T-shirt that had a white clef symbol on it, Grimes was the picture of health, and his playing was sharp. He alternated from the double bass to the violin. His solos were pungent. And he sounded just as marvelous as he did four decades ago on Don Cherry’s landmark 1965 Blue Note album Complete Communion.
Undoubtedly, Grimes was the guy the people had came to hear. but Roy Campbell, Jr. made the concert an unforgettable experience. He had his trumpet crying like a baby, and made his flugelhorn sound like a tuba. Where Grimes's solos were to the point, Campbell’s burst with energy. The man’s stamina was incredible, and his soloing kept getting stronger.
Taylor, the drummer, was gentle at times, striking the skins delicately like someone wiping the dust from a priceless china cabinet. There were also moments of reckless abandon. During one improvisational exchange with Grimes, Taylor unscrewed a cymbal and dragged it across his snare drum. Then I thought he'd lost his mind when he started banging it against his knee. Nope, all part of the show. And it was amazing.
Thursday night, Grimes's trio gave a 50-minute crash course in improvisational chemistry, the most important thing being that, even though the music was uncharted, they stayed entirely in sync.
Charles L. Latimer