Milford Graves / Don Pullen

In Concert At Yale University

Superior Viaduct • 1966

In 1966, free jazz was still the »new thing«, a radically different music that shocked the establishment and was seen as the soundtrack to the American civil rights movement. On 30 April of that year, Milford Graves and Don Pullen played a duo concert at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Drummer Graves was a pioneer of free jazz who had played with Albert Ayler, Paul Bley and the New York Art Quartet. Pianist Pullen was heavily influenced by Cecil Taylor and came into contact with avant-garde jazz early on. 

Graves is clearly the leader, leading the duo with his drumming, which he interprets freely, breaking out of its function as an accompanying instrument and pure rhythm giver. Pullen answers the rhythmic swings with percussive piano playing. On the two LP-length improvisations, the duo pushes the expressiveness to the point of pain, but always contrasts it with quiet, contemplative passages. Over six decades later, it remains an extraordinary listening experience.