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Torn Light Records
1855 N Milwaukee
Chicago, IL 60647
Open Everyday

Charles Gayle / Milford Graves / William Parker ‎– Webo

In stock


A legendary concert by one of the great unrecorded bands in free jazz history is here at last. WEBO, the third installment in the Black Editions Archive series of previously unreleased recordings from Milford Graves’ private tape library, roars into the station June 21, 2024. For the first time, Charles Gayle, Milford Graves, & William Parker —three lions of the Black American jazz avant-garde— are finally heard together on record, presented here across three audiophile-quality LPs for two brutalizingly joyous hours of real ju-ju & musical mastery.

The trio of Charles Gayle, Milford Graves, & William Parker gave only seven public performances between 1985 & 2013, & released no recordings. Their June 1991 two-night stand at the short-lived Lower East Side venue Webo, long referenced as a signal event in New York free jazz’s 1990s resurgence, has been a topic of discussion among close followers of the music for decades. In the uncompromising grassroots spirit of the 1970s New York Musicians Organization & loft jazz movements from which they had emerged, the band produced & promoted the Webo concerts themselves. Photography and audio recording were not allowed at the concerts, & this official recording, commissioned by the artists, was never released —until now.

So vivid was the lore surrounding Webo that it topped the list of recordings sought by Black Editions Archive from Graves’ private collection. The tapes maximally substantiate eyewitness accounts describing extra-sensory levels of communication within the band, & the extraordinary clarity & impact of their performance. From William Parker’s liner notes: “Imagine a village or choir of drummers, horn players & strings. You can hear the bass & drums churning with a call & response, a melodic-rhythmic propulsion. In reality there is only one drummer, one bass, & one saxophone.”

Age 52 at the time of these concerts, Charles Gayle had only recently made his first recordings. To all but the most immediate insiders he was still more myth than reality. Milford Graves, two months out from his 50th birthday, was about halfway into his body of recorded work & had sanctioned just one appearance on a commercially released recording in the last 14 years (Pieces of Time by an all drummer quartet with Kenny Clarke, Andrew Cyrille, & Famoudou Don Moye). William Parker, the young man of the group at age 39, was a mere fifty entries into his discography, now 500+ entries & counting. All three musicians were at least a quarter century into passionately developing a personal & collective music rooted in the cultural values & radical aesthetics of the 1960s & ‘70s Black American avant-garde.

30+ years after the Webo concerts, Black Editions Archive is honored to make these historical recordings available to the public. The x3 LPs are presented in a heavy black, pigment-stamped box with mounted cover painting along with liner notes by William Parker, commentary from Alan Licht (witness to night one of the Webo concerts), a reproduction of the original concert flyer, & a set of 6×9 printed photos from the 2021 Webo reunion outside MoMA PS1, Queens, NY. Cover Painting by Jeff Schlanger / musicWitness, made June 8, 1991, at Webo during the band’s performance. Vinyl pressed at RTI, lacquers cut by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio.
—Michael Ehlers, 2024

Record Label


Stock Level In stock
SKU 31048961