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Jazz Times: Heart Specialist–An Exhibition in Philadelphia pays tribute to the multidisciplinary accomplishments of Milford Graves

Heart Specialist–An Exhibition in Philadelphia pays tribute to the multidisciplinary accomplishments of Milford Graves
By Ken Micaleff
Jazz Times, December 2020

When appraising the work of Milford Graves, you need to reimagine what constitutes jazz and improvisation. Yes, he’s a master percussionist who helped take the drums beyond mere timekeeping. But he’s also much more than that. Now 78 and a faculty member emeritus at Bennington College, Graves is the rare (perhaps sole) musician whose pursuits have crossed multiple disciplines for decades, resulting in dozens of important jazz works, pat- ents for medical devices, herbal cures for various ailments, paintings, sculptures, costume art, and a lifelong study of the human heartbeat as a means to creating music and healing illness.

In the first major retrospective honoring Graves, Philadelphia’s Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) in partnership with Ars Nova Workshop is presenting Milford Graves: A Mind-Body Deal, which also marked the reopening of ICA to the public. Running from September 25, 2020 through January 24, 2021, A Mind-Body Deal spans six decades and comprises more than 40 artworks, including rare hand-painted album covers and posters, unusual drum sets, multimedia sculptures, photographs, and costumes, as well as artifacts from Graves’ home, scientific studies, record- ing ephemera, and archival recordings.

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