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Milford Graves

Milford Graves

American drummer
The basics
Occupation Jazz musician Percussionist
Country United States of America
Date of birth Jamaica, Queens, New York City, New York
Awards John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship
Authority Library of congress id Musicbrainz id ISNI id Discogs id VIAF id
The details

Milford Graves (born August 20, 1941 in Queens, New York) 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 worldwide 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, as a full-time professor from 1973 until 2011, when he was awarded Emeritus status.

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 Pharoah Sanders, Rashied Ali, Albert Ayler, Don Pullen, Kenny Clarke, Don Moye, Andrew Cyrille, Philly Joe Jones, Eddie Gómez, and John Zorn. He has invested his time in research within the field of healing through music.

In 2013, Milford Graves along with Drs.Carlo Tremolada and Carlo Ventura received a patent for an invention that relates to a process of preparing a non-expanded tissue derivative, that is not subjected to cell proliferation in vitro, which has a vascular-stromal fraction enriched in stem and multipotent elements, such as pericytes and/or mesenchymal stem cells, or for preparing non-embryonic stem cells obtained from a tissue sample or from such tissue derivative, wherein the tissue derivative or such cells are subjected to vibrations derived from a heart sound to control the degree of differentiation or possible differentiation of the stem and multipotent elements into several other types of cells and optimize their potency. The invention relates also to a device for carrying out the process, to stem cells obtainable by the process as well as a drug for the regeneration of an animal tissue.


As leader

  • 1965: Percussion Ensemble (ESP)
  • 1977: Meditation Among Us (Kitty)
  • 1977: Babi (IPS)
  • 1978: Meditation Among Us (Kitty Records/DIW)
  • 1998: Grand Unification (Tzadik)
  • 2000: Stories' (Tzadik)

As sideman

with Montego Joe

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

With Giuseppi Logan

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

With Paul Bley

  • Barrage (ESP, 1965)

With New York Art Quartet

  • New York Art Quartet (ESP)
  • Mohawk (Fontana)
  • 35th Reunion (DIW)
  • call it art (Triple Point Records)

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

  • Holy Ghost: Rare & Unissued Recordings (1962–70) (Revenant)
  • Love Cry (Impulse!)

With Sonny Sharrock

  • Black Woman (Vortex, 1969)

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

  • Pieces of Time (Soul Note)

With David Murray

  • Real Deal (DIW)

With John Zorn

  • 50th Birthday Celebration Volume 2 (Tzadik)

With Anthony Braxton & William Parker

  • Beyond Quantum (Tzadik, 2008)
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