Milford Graves Quartet at VisionFest
There was a palpable sense of anticipation before Milford Graves' set. The veteran drummer and educator hadn't played the Vision Festival for five years and doesn't have too many gigs in New York City, and this was to be the premiere of his new quartet, featuring pianist D.D. Jackson. Having studied with the great Don Pullen, Jackson's inclusion immediately brought to mind those classic early sides Graves recorded with Pullen on the long out of print Nommo (SRP, 1966). Anyone with an inkling of how they sounded would not have been disappointed with the wall of sound barrage which awaited.

Graves is something of a showman, even carrying band members around on his shoulders in previous performances. Tonight they all remained tied by the force of gravity, and the drummer's theatricality was restricted to his entrance. On a home-made talking drum, Graves began in the wings, before circling the stage as he played until concluding with a puckish "Good Evening." After positioning himself behind his customized kit he launched a tumultuous pounding, speaking in self-invented tongues in accompaniment. Jackson slipped onstage and began beating the hell out of his piano, with Graves looking delighted. Jackson rocked backwards and forwards as he assaulted the piano in a display of amazing high energy playing. Graves summoned first William Parker to leap into the fray, then tenor saxophonist Grant Langford for a veritable wall of sound.

Graves leavened his ferocious power with a distinctive timbral palette courtesy of his customized kit, but he also demonstrated an uncanny ability to maintain separate rhythms on different parts of his kit, so at times it sounded as if there were at least two drummers involved. Though the group generally operated at flat out intensity, it was like a spicy meal where you can still taste the full range of flavors once you get used to the heat, with shifting patterns revealing themselves to the discerning listener within the overall tumult. Parker's approach was similar to his tactic with Cecil Taylor, a flow of constantly changing propulsive patterns.

Graves took time out to talk about the three generations of musicians in the band, with Langford the youngest member, and how musicians from the 1950s and '60s could be a timely inspiration to the younger generation in showing that you can do it for yourselves. Langford held his own without overpowering, building with short gobbets of overblown sound, trading licks with Jackson and even finding space for more delicate whinnies. Jackson clearly relished the challenge to ensure he was heard, supplementing his strong runs with block chords, flats of hands and elbows as necessary to get his point over. A wonderful rousing set and yet another well-merited standing ovation.
from allaboutjazz.com, by John Sharpe
archives
7/16/2009 - Milford Graves Quartet at VisionFest
2/15/2009 - Jazz-opera 'Québécité' grew from an interracial love story
12/19/2007 - www.jazzweek.com review of "Serenity Song"
11/28/2007 - Young Stars of Jazz at Yoshi's
11/7/2007 - D.D. Jackson interview for Edmonton Journal
9/25/2007 - Chinese fest at Pier 21 a cultural cornucopia
8/1/2007 - NEWS RELEASE: D.D. Jackson at MEC/Jazzy Jazz Festival in Rare Organ Appearance
7/23/2007 - NEWS RELEASE: A Family Focus for Upcoming D.D. Jackson Trio MOMA Performance
6/14/2007 - "Making Trudeau Sing!"
5/30/2007 - RADIO: interview I did with CBC about my new Trudeau opera
12/4/2006 - Harbourfront Centre’s inaugural New World Stage International Performance
11/28/2006 - Jazz Fan Ends Up on Star's Website
11/28/2006 - Jazzreview.com review of "Serenity Song"
11/4/2006 - The Voice 88.7 fm review of "Serenity Song"
10/19/2006 - Coda magazine review of "Serenity Song"
10/9/2006 - Downbeat magazine [four star] review of Serenity Song
9/18/2006 - All Music Guide review of Serenity Song
9/18/2006 - Pittsburg Tribune-Review review of Serenity Song
9/7/2006 - Finding Serenity In Queens: The D.D. Jackson Interview
8/3/2006 - Buffalo News review of Serenity Song
7/18/2006 - Opera about Pierre Elliott Trudeau to have comedy, drama, sorrow
7/11/2006 - Trudeau perfect subject for new opera, Clarke says
3/1/2006 - Montreal Gazette review of Suite for New York
3/1/2004 - Jazz Journalists International review of Suite for New York
11/17/2003 - Coda Magazine review of Suite for New York
10/15/2003 - "Québécité Is Opera for the Modern Masses"
10/15/2003 - "Quebecite"
10/2/2003 - Jazz Times review of Suite for New York
10/2/2003 - DownBeat review of Suite for New York
9/30/2003 - "Love and Cross-Cultural Struggles in Quebecite"
9/30/2003 - "One World Vibe: Can a Canadian pianist, European bassist, and Cuban drummer play America's music?"
8/31/2003 - "Definitely Not Your Parent's Opera"
8/29/2003 - "Québécité celebrates festival's 10th year", Kitchener Waterloo Record
6/12/2003 - Buffalo News review of Suite for New York
6/11/2003 - Toronto Globe and Mail review of Suite for New York
5/31/2003 - All About Jazz review (#2) of Suite for New York
5/31/2003 - Toronto Star review of Suite for New York
4/2/2003 - All About Jazz review (#1) of Suite for New York
3/4/2003 - Barnes & Noble online review of Suite for New York
3/3/2003 - Jazzreviews.com review of Suite for New York
2/2/2003 - "Jackson Breaks Free to Follow Jazz Whim"
12/10/2002 - "Restless Talent Alights Here"
10/31/2002 - "Improvisational Pianist Among World's Best"
10/31/2002 - Jazz Journal International review of Sigame
6/23/2002 - "Jackson in Action: New York based pianist protects his sound by going with a small label"
3/31/2002 - "Crossing Borders: Reflections on the 30th Annual IAJE Conference"
2/28/2002 - "Traditions: A Settling Storm"
9/1/2001 - CDNOW review of Sigame
Quotes
"D.D. Jackson is, at his best, the most inventive pianist under 50, dashing across the keyboard with preternatural speed yet never losing his classical grace and precision or his left-hand bluesy roots...."

-- - Fred Kaplan, The Absolute Sound
Suite for New York:
An impressive montage of controlled chaos, exciting solo work and promise of things to come: a febrile fusion of futuristic jazz, contemporary classical, streetwise funk and Afro-Cuban sensuality.

-- - Jazz Times Magazine
Quebecite:
"The score is a powerful, identifiably Jacksonesque effort full of energy, rhythm, and flourish..."

-- - Mark Miller, the Globe and Mail
Sigame:
"Swinging, immediate and risk-taking, Sigame is everything a great jazz album should be."

-- - Pulse magazine
"They should have called it "Stand Back, Here Comes D.D. Jackson." This passionate young Canadian pianist sounds like a state-of-the-art player piano exceeding the limits of human performance. "......So Far" is clearly a contender for jazz record of the year. Don't miss it."

-- Steve Guttenberg, Audio magazine