Milford Graves

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Milford Graves
Milford Graves.jpg
Background information
Born (1941-08-20) 20 August 1941 (age 73)
Jamaica, Queens, New York, United States
Genres Jazz, free jazz, avant-garde jazz, world music
Occupation(s) musician, college professor
Instruments Drums, percussion, timbales, conga drums, vocals,
Labels ESP, Prestige, Fontana, RCA, Tzadik
Associated acts Albert Ayler, New York Art Quartet, Paul Bley, Don Pullen

Milford Graves (born August 20, 1941 in Queens, New York)[1] is an American jazz drummer and percussionist, most noteworthy for his early avant-garde contributions in the early 1960s with Paul Bley and the New York Art Quartet alongside John Tchicai, Roswell Rudd, and Reggie Workman. He is considered to be a free jazz pioneer, liberating the percussion from its timekeeping role. In fact, many of his music contemporaries, musician inspirees, and fans world-wide would argue that Graves is perhaps the most influential known musician in the development and continuing evolution of free-jazz/avant-garde music, to date. Milford Graves taught at Bennington College, in Bennington,Vermont, being a tenured professor from 1973to 2011; in 2011, he is awarded Emeritus status. [2]

Initially playing timbales as a kid growing up in Queens, Graves has worked as a sideman and session musician with a variety of jazz musicians throughout his career, including Pharaoh Sanders, Rashied Ali, Albert Ayler, Don Pullen, Kenny Clarke, Don Moye, Andrew Cyrille, Philly Joe Jones, Eddie Gómez, and John Zorn. [1] He has invested his time in research within the field of healing through music.[3]


As leader[edit]

  • 1965: Percussion Ensemble (ESP)
  • 1977: Meditation Among Us (Kitty)
  • 1977: Babi (IPS)
  • 1998: Grand Unification (Tzadik)
  • 2000: Stories' (Tzadik)

As sideman[edit]

with Montego Joe

  • Arriba! (Prestige)
  • Wild & Warm (Prestige)

With Giuseppi Logan

  • Giuseppi Logan Quartet (ESP)
  • More Giuseppi Logan (ESP)

With Paul Bley

With New York Art Quartet

  • New York Art Quartet (ESP)
  • Mohawk (Fontana)
  • 35th Reunion (DIW)

With the Jazz Composer's Orchestra

  • Communication (Fontana)

With Miriam Makeba

  • Makeba Sings! (RCA)

With Lowell Davidson

  • The Lowell Davidson Trio (ESP)

With Don Pullen

  • At Yale University (PG)
  • Nommo (SRP)

With Albert Ayler

With Sonny Sharrock

With Andrew Cyrille

  • Dialogue of the Drums (IPS)

With Various Artists

  • New American Music Volume 1: New York Section / Composers of the 1970's (Folkways)

With Sun Ra

  • Untitled Recordings (Transparency)

With Kenny Clarke/Andrew Cyrille/Famoudou Don Moye

With David Murray

With John Zorn

With Anthony Braxton & William Parker


  1. ^ a b "Milford Graves at All About Jazz". All About Jazz. AOL.Muaix. Retrieved 9 August 2010. 
  2. ^ Litweiler, John (1984). The Freedom Principle:Jazz after 1958. Da Capo. p. 137. ISBN 0-306-80377-1. 
  3. ^ Corey Kilgannon, "Finding Healing Music in the Heart", New York Times, November 9, 2004 Retrieved November 20, 2004

External links[edit]