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July 12 - August 24, 2019

at Jamaica Art Center
161-04 Jamaica Avenue, Jamaica, NY


Milford Graves, installation view, Queens International 2018: Volumes. Courtesy of Queens Museum. Photo credit: Hai Zhang. 

Milford Graves, born and raised in Southeast Queens. Graves, is an American jazz drummer and percussionist, most noteworthy for his early avant-garde contributions in the 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. An autodidact who came into his own internalizing Afro-Cuban rhythms from the radio and playing in mambo bands, Graves notably transferred the prominence of percussion in Latin music to the context of jazz, incorporating impulses from Indian and African drumming into an ambidextrous marvel of pulsing and shifting polyrhythms. In fact, many of his music contemporaries, students, 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.


A rare example of a truly holistic artist”- according to the The New York Times. In addition to being a consummate percussionist, Graves is a polymath whose interests encompass horticulture, cellular biology, sculpture, martial arts, and natural healing. He is Professor Emeritus at Bennington College, where he taught from 1973 to 2011, and in 2000 was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship that enabled him to continue research into the rhythms of the human heart that so inform his music. His work using recordings of heartbeats to increase blood flow has led to a partnership with a team of Italian biologists exploring sound’s capacity to stimulate stem cell growth. The exhibition Volumes: Milford Graves, organized by the Queens Museum and curated by Sophia Marisa Lucas, documents his remarkable research in this area and will be part of the festival at the Jamaica Arts Center. This exhibition was originally produced in conjunction with the exhibition Queens International 2018

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