Lou Grassi

Primary Instrument: Drums

Born: January 21, 1947    

Lou Grassi

Since the release of his CD PoGressions in 1996 Lou's star has been on the rise. He has subsequently appeared on more than 60 new recordings. His nine CDs as a leader, including six by the PoBand, have established him as one of the most versatile, original, and creative drummers working in this idiom.

Lou Grassi has performed and/or recorded with a wide range of outstanding artists, including Marshall Allen, Billy Bang, Borah Bergman, Rob Brown, Roy Campbell, The Copascetics, Jimmy Garrison, Charles Gayle, Burton Greene, Urbie Green, Gunter Hampel, Johnny Hartman, Guenter Heinz, Fred van Hove, Joseph Jarman, Karl Berger, Sheila Jordan, William Parker, Perry Robinson, Roswell Rudd, John Tchicai and Kenny Wessel among others....
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Lou Grassi

Press Quotes

“Grassi, always skilled at incorporating the nuances of his entire kit, turns the fire up and down as needed.” Mike Shanley Jazz Times

“Grassi really demonstrates the breadth of his timbral and rhythmic language. Expanding on the innovations of Sunny Murray and Rashied Ali.” Marc Medwin All About Jazz New York

“Drummer Lou Grassi's work on the CIMP and Cadence labels has proven to be consistently intriguing - he shows a penchant for setting up collective situations with non-traditional instrumentation that effortlessly ignore boundaries between freedom, composition, and spontaneous collective arrangements. Grassi is careful not to overwhelm the others. His loose drumming delivers a potent, simmering flow that constantly shapes the momentum of the improvisations .” Michael Rosenstein Cadence

“And drummers, do check out Lou Grassi, because he is a gem for sure.” Dennis Hollingsworth JazzImprov

“Grassi leads the group through a cornucopia of textures and moods... and Grassi's multihanded, Elvin Jones-style drumming makes for a wild ride. The muscularity and melodicism of his drumming come through loud and clear. Once again Grassi, in the best spirit of Duke, Mingus, and Miles, calls forth the best from his mates , and eggs them on, in his percussion as well as in his organizational skill, to unexpected heights. Grassi is, once again, amazingly sensitive and right about what he chooses in the moment. A great drummer .” Robert Spencer All About Jazz

“As always, Grassi, an incredibly dynamic presence, coaxes and fuels the proceedings . . . “

Jay Collins One Final Note

”Grassi is the consummate small group drummer, on top of every nuance, non-intrusive yet immeasurably important to the success of the recording.”

Steven Loewy Cadence Magazine

“Grassi is a one man percussive powerhouse able to pound out elemental cadences or just as agilely sculpt complex polyrhythms for his partners to play atop.” Derek Taylor All About Jazz

“Grassi is a very talented drummer - he is capable of lifting a tune to a high level of excellence .” Walter Horn Signal To Noise

“Grassi's discography has largely been limited to other CIMP dates, but his ingenuity on the drums screams for other opportunities to record .” Derek Taylor All About Jazz

“Grassi's star is on the rise . . . a mature musician whose only limits on his music are the number of hours in the day that he can devote to his craft.” Derek Taylor All About Jazz

“Lou Grassi is one of those few jazz players who is as comfortable with straight ahead bop as he is with ventures into the realm of the totally free . . . Grassi powers the group and the creativity and energy are boundless .” Steven A. Loewy

“Grassi continues to impress , with his unique emphasis on the lower tones, and an unusual ability to sustain solo after solo with finely tuned shades of emotion. Filled with controlled energy, a fluid and sophisticated style, and an uncanny capacity to follow the leader, Grassi is one of the leading exponents of his mode of expression.” Steven A. Loewy Cadence

“If the first quality of a leader is to know how to unite the individualities which come together to produce an entity which is greater than the sum of its parts, one could say that in creating the Po Band Lou Grassi has shown that he is one of the first order, and at the same time he is an impeccable percussionist.” Marc Chaloin Improjazz (France)

“The ensembles were given drive and body... by the rhythmic steadiness of Lou Grassi on drums”. John Wilson The New York Times

“Grassi rolls and undulates like the spiked glossallalia of Milford Graves and the smooth patter of Andrew Cyrille and Sunny Murray . He can work his assorted tom-toms into staggered rolls that go so quickly up and down that which way things are headed is sometimes happily unclear... tireless force and intellect”. Andrew Bartlett Cadence

“Ferocious. Hard-hitting. Grassi acts like a circus ringleader presiding over often turbulent group improvisations within structure”. Jon Andrews****Downbeat Magazine

“Grassi supplies a very distinct drum style that often resembles the support beneath Ellington's jungle music”. Dave McElfresh Jazz Now

“Grassi has an incredible talent for setting up a percussive environment that things can grow in . Like some jazz farmer he piles on a rich texture of fertiliser, creating a mulch for this bumper crop of colour, humour and variety . . . Grassi is as much polyatmosperic as he is polyrhythmic “. Nathan Thompson Opprobrium (New Zealand)

“Grassi provides consistently firm support , and regales both as vivifying drummer and creative soloist”. Steven A.Loewy Cadence

“Grassi's propelling, sometimes primitive drumbeats - like heartbeats - collectively and individually enliven”. Nancy Ann Lee Jazz Times

“Lou Grassi seems to be able to maintain several unrelated rhythmic streams at once”. Bill Bennett Jazz Times

“Lou Grassi's dynamic use of the entire drumkit is perfect...” Larry Nai Jazziz

“Grassi is a perfect leader ... the accomplished percussionist has Vision. Grassi is always there, often as instigator and colorist, but rarely grabbing the limelight”. Steven A. Loewy Cadence

“Grassi, a fine drummer with sufficient force to drive a big band, keeps generating polyrhythms that feed the fire”. Stuart Broomer Cadence

“(There was a) virtuoso solo by percussionist Lou Grassi, who all but launched his cymbals into orbit”. The El Paso Times

“Smoothly flowing free percussion”. Milo Fine Cadence

“Lou Grassi's expressiveness transformed the drums from a rhythm instrument to a melody instrument. This was only possible because he brought with him a technique which seemed to know no bounds. Almost unbelievable “. WolfenbuttelZeitung (Germany)

“Grassi is a highly melodic drummer “. Scot Hacker Cadence

“Grassi was consistently excellent “. Chris Kelsey Jazz Now

“Grassi is a strong drummer who takes no prisoners and shows no weakness in any style he chooses to play”. R.Romus Jazz Now

  • Live At The Knitting Factory Volume 1

    Porter Records
  • The Dope And The Ghost

    Not Two Records
  • Live At The Guelph Festival

    Cadence Jazz Records
  • Infinite POtential

    CIMP Records
  • Jawboning

    CIMP Records
  • Avanti Galoppi

    CIMP Records
  • Avanti Galoppi

    CIMP Records

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Featured recording “Live At The Knitting Factory...”

Live At The Knitting Factory...
Porter Records (2011)

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