Patty Waters Sings
Review by Guillaume Lagree at Les 7 Lezards, Paris, France March 2006
“With Strings and Cries”
Henry Grimes plays without microphone. He has no need for it. The power of the sound is there. The wood. Depth. Imagination. In short, it is as great as on his albums of the '60's with Sonny Rollins, Don Cherry, Albert Ayler or Pharoah Sanders-whereas he did not touch a double-bass from 1968 to 2002! Listening to him, one includes/understands immediately where William Parker’s sound comes from. Not astonishing that William offered a double-bass to Henry to enable him to return on the music scene: a right homage to the Master. One finds also the sound of Jimmy Garrison or that of Mingus, who was said to have made his bass sound like the great organ of a cathedral.
The long preliminary solo of Henry Grimes recalls that of Jimmy Garrison on “Impressions” at Antibes on July 26, 1965, but with the bow, Henry Grimes sounds in a way much more aggressive and tortured than Garrison, while at the same time Henry’s face breathed calm and wisdom.
The flame of the free jazz should not die out and will not die out!
The room is far from full — misfortune for the absent ones. In costume tie, capped with a tennis player’s headband, displaying a large badge like a saucer with a photograph on it, he had a holy look, this powerful man.
After 15 minutes of an enormous double-bass solo, Patty Waters sang gently at the rate and rhythm of the bow. It is magic and moving. She has such a strong air, and yet so fragile! She sings “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” and she is believed.
In the room, some French musicians come to listen to the American giants: Sophia Domancich (who played in the first part of the evening), Simon Goubert, Alain Jean-Marie.
The piece lasts, is stretched, and gradually, the room is envoûtée [enveloped?] by this voice, which undulates, breaks like waves on the shore, carried by the rate and rhythm of the double bass. Here, the words do not count for their direction, but for their sound. “Love,” repeated many times, becomes an incantation, a petition. “The desperate songs are the most beautiful songs, and I know immortal ones that are pure sobs,” wrote Alfred de Musset. It is exactly what occurs this evening. By repeating the same word but varying the intonations, Waters makes it possible for Grimes to improvise; it is she who accompanies him, and also the reverse. They finish this piece of thirty minutes with “I Love Paris” and a gracious smile from Patty, completing the enchantment in the room.
After the break, Henry Grimes launches out in a new solo of introduction. Patty Waters seems timid and filled with wonder. Grimes is much more frenzied with the bow than in pizzicato; he calms down as soon as he plays the strings with his fingers. “Strange Fruit” of Billie Holiday: a hallucinatory ballad. Waters states the words well, but one could not say that Grimes plays the melody so much as triturates it, the axe [?], the revival [?]. Patty Waters doesn't’t scat, but repeats the words, stretches them, prolongs them. Soon it is “Lonely Woman” of Ornette Coleman, not even time to applaud. This time, she launches and he accompanies. It is certainly not as perfect technically as Helen Merrill with Ron Carter (meetings with Dick Katz), but so touching... It connects with the “Don't Explain” of Billie Holiday? on the razor’s edge. as if her life depended on it, rare feeling. Then she groans, howls her pain; she seems to cry while singing.
Next, Patty leaves the scene and lets Lydia Domancich settle at the piano. Alain Jean-Marie, a true gentleman, lets her play first. After a short aside, Domancich and Grimes launch out into “Lonely Woman.” Simon Gaubert takes photographs. It would be said that Sophia and Henry always played together, so much the music takes off. Each one answers the stimuli with the impulses of the other. It is coordinated and impetuous at the same time.
The duet of Henry Grimes and Patty Waters was not recorded. Will it be one day? At least let us hope to be able to hear it again in front of a larger audience, but as attentive as that of this evening at Les 7 Lezards, Paris, France. March 2006.