A nice interview with Henry Threadgill in the Wall Street Journal. His new album “This Brings Us To, Vol. II” on Pi Records is really happening. I have posted a couple tracks from Volume 1 after the article…
WALL STREET JOURNAL
November 9, 2010
By MARTIN JOHNSON
For a quarter century beginning in the mid-1970s, reedman and composer Henry Threadgill was a dominant force on the jazz and contemporary-classical music scenes. He led a variety of ensembles with increasingly idiosyncratic names like Air, the Henry Threadgill Sextett, the Very Very Circus, Make a Move and Zooid. These groups pushed the boundaries of both jazz and new music, yet they also trafficked in familiar elements like tangos, marches and fanfares. It was easy to become a Henry Threadgill fan without being a lover of jazz or new-music.
“What first struck me about Henry’s work is its lyricism,” said Butch Morris, a composer, cornetist and conductor who has followed Mr. Threadgill’s career since the ’70s. “He’s taken familiar forms and really advanced them.”
Then about eight years ago, Mr. Threadgill faded to the margins. He released no widely distributed recordings, and was heard in concert only sporadically. He finally returned last autumn with his band, Zooid, on “This Brings Us To, Vol. I,” (Pi Recordings), which was widely hailed as one of the best jazz recordings of the year.
This season, Mr. Threadgill is much more prominent, with “This Brings Us To, Vol. II” (Pi) and Mosaic Records’s limited-edition eight-disc retrospective, “The Complete Novus & Columbia Recordings of Henry Threadgill & Air.” In addition, Zooid is to perform Mr. Threadgill’s newest works at Roulette in SoHo for three nights this week beginning Thursday.
Over drinks at an Italian café near his East Village home, Mr. Threadgill said the hiatus gave his band time to master his new style of composing music. “I have completely left the majorminor system in favor of a chromatic way,” he said.
Liberty Ellman, Zooid’s guitarist, added via email, “It’s a system for developing harmony and counterpoint from a set of intervals that originate in chord analysis.”
For Mr. Threadgill, one of the key goals of the new system was to facilitate collective improvisation along the lines of early jazz. Mr. Ellman said it was a challenge to learn the new system. “It’s difficult at first to put aside your pre-existing vocabulary while learning to play Henry’s music, but over time it becomes intuitive and it really opens your ears up to a larger musical universe.” Full Article…
Henry Threadgill Zooid – “To Undertake My Corners Open”
Henry Threadgill Zooid – “Sap”
From “This Brings Us To, Vol. 1” : 2009 : Pi Recordings Pi31