It’s a peculiar percolation served up by the wily composer’s mid-sized ensemble. From cello to tuba to guitar, every instrument seems to be playing a percussionist’s role – including the 73-year-old Threadgill. His judicious sax pecking and flute blasts may suggest melody, but they also pepper the action with a lithe forward motion that invariably gooses an oddly fetching groove. Bluster is banished on many of Zooid’s performances, and most of their latest album, the Pulitizer Prize-winning In For a Penny, In For a Pound (Pi Recordings) lets a measured approach signify the music’s sense of intricacy and, ultimately, wisdom. Call it a five-level chess game where the pieces are always in play. The band occasionally rises the roof, and the solos bolster the action, but it’s the crazed propulsion that will be bouncing around your head after the dust has settled on Saturday afternoon at their Newport debut.
Newport Jazz Festival 2017
Wrote about the Threadgill Mosaic box for DownBeat, relistening to all the glory contained therein back in the late fall. But something grabbed me last week again, and I’ve been been spinning the Air cuts and the Make a Move stuff. Here’s the review…
There’s a classic Henry Threadgill interview that finds the bandleader describing the trio Air as an “octopus,” with tentacles reaching out three different ways while still working as one. Nice image, and on point as well. The 66-year-old saxophonist has long had a talent for making music that seems larger than the number of participants would suggest possible. Clever is an adjective that’s occasionally applied to his arrangements, and indeed, compositional sleight of hand is a cornerstone of his art. You can hear it develop throughout the myriad bands and various eras documented on the eight discs of The Complete Novus and Columbia Recordings of Henry Threadgill and Air.
Members of the AACM in the early 70s, Threadgill, drummer Steve McCall and bassist Fred Hopkins were responsible for some of the decade’s most novel small-group abstractions. As Air, they…click for full review
Here’s HenThread talking orchestration schemes, and a Sextett jewel.
Jason Crane talks to Hank Shteamer about the Mosaic box.
David Adler profiles Henry.
Howard Mandel profiles Henry.
Chop, chop, chop – that’s the sound of rock-savvy nu bop quartet Gutbucket slicing its way through genreville. Viciously casting an aesthetic net that stretches from Henry Cow to Henry Threadgill to Curlew to Bernard Herrmann to the Soft Machine to Ornette’s Prime Time to the Muffins to Bastro, the band has long boasted a steely aggression and expressionistic wail, with saxophonist Ken Thomson’s horn sounding like a goose being chased by a tornado. Prog-skronk can be a pain at times – all texture, no coordination. But the new Flock (Cuneiform) is just as much about intricacy as it is crunch, bolstering the mayhem with lots of precision and shredding clichés while celebrating racket. A listen to “Tryst ‘n Shout” and/or “Fuck You And Your Hipster Tie” will explain further. They hit NYC tonight, taking over Le Poisson Rouge with Allison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom.
Been listening to the new Henry Threadgill box set on Mosaic, which in turn led me back to Air’s ancient “Through a Keyhole Darkly,” which in turn led me to the HenThread Sextett’s mid-80s “Silver and Gold Baby, Silver and Gold,” which in turn led me back to the present tense, and the saxophonist/composer’s addictive “It Never Moved,” from his latest disc, This Brings Us To, Volume II (Pi). The jittery pulses used by Zooid’s rhythm section (tuba, bass, guitar, drums) bolster the boss’s itchy horn lines at every turn. I’m hearing it as direct link back to Air’s “USO Dance,” from the late ’70s – one of the tunes that threw a snare around me vis a vis falling in love with jazz. Zooid’s Roulette run ends Saturday (with a reprise of his recent “All The Way Light Touch”). Probably best to swing by and hear “It Never Moved” live tonight. See you there?
Here’s footage of Zooid’s last Roulette trip (please consider donating to Roulette to speed their trip to Brooklyn).
Hank Shteamer, who wrote the notes for the Mosaic overview, has a full-on HenThread interview in The Wire.
While you’re waiting for Mosaic to finish up HenThread’s Novus overview (with the unreleased X-75 session), and while you’re waiting for About Time to drop Subject To Change, you can watch Zooid do its thing at Roulette tonight at 8 pm. The group’s show, built around a commissioned piece entitled “All the Way Light Touch,” is being Webcast (donate to Roulette!). Threadgill and company have a new Pi CD, This Brings Us To, Vol 1
Nate Chinen spends some quality time with HenThread.