Threadgill, Henry - This Brings Us To, Volume II

SKU 32-Pi 36
"A year ago Pi Recordings released the first new Henry Threadgill recording since 2001: This Brings Us To, Volume I. This is the second release from the same recording sessions of November 2008. Threadgill's Zooid band is a quintet, with Liberty Ellman on acoustic guitar, Jose Davila on trombone and tuba, Stomu Takeishi on bass and Elliot Humberto Kavee on drums, with Henry alternating between flute and alto sax. Volume II (about 44 minutes long) was again mixed by Liberty Ellman, in June 2010, and mastered by Steve Fallone. This is a tight unit, and they only entered the studio after extensive live touring with these compositions. The liner notes on the Pi Recordings website, explain that Threadgill has developed a new system of improvisation since his last recordings in 2001: "[t]he compositions are organized along a series of interval blocks comprised of three notes, each of which is assigned to a musician, who is free to move around within these intervals, improvising melodies and creating counterpoint to one another." This is something the listener can use in order to hear the parameters of the compositions, but in any event one has only to hear the record to immediately recognize Threadgill's sound world. The music is rhythmically propulsive and tight in the way that only a band that has played together for years can achieve. Threadgill has been mining the same distinctive sound for 30 years now, and it is still a rich vein. Threadgill's Air trio of the '70s, which came out of Chicago's AACM, explored the intersection of composition and free improv. The Sextett of the '80s and Very Very Circus of the '90s (with twin guitars and tubas!) both featured complex compositions that emphasized unusual textures, and utilized a dark, minor key harmonic palette, and the 2008 Zooid THIS BRINGS US TO sessions do not mark a sharp stylistic departure. There is improvisation, but it is tightly constrained, as described above. Threadgill has never been known primarily as a virtuoso alto soloist, rather his strength is as a composer and arranger. He utilizes rhythmic structures from Jellyroll Morton, sophisticated counterpoint, and subtle harmonic shifts that do not resolve. The return of Henry Threadgill is one of the great events of jazz/improv of 2009 and 2010, with much of his back catalog reissued in addition to these new recordings. If you are new to his music, you are in for a pleasant surprise, and if you are a long-time listener like me, you know what to expect -- the best!"-R. Hutchinson
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