Monday, September 14, 2009

Henry Threadgill - This Brings Us To, Vol. 1 (Pi Recordings, 2009)

It has been a long time coming, but mecurial composer and instrumentalist Henry Threadgill finally has a new album. Recorded with his band Zooid, this album of knotty compositions and exciting improvisations was well worth the wait. Along with Threadgill on alto saxophone and flute, Zooid consists of Liberty Ellman on guitar, Jose Davila on trombone and tuba, Stomu Takeishi on bass and Elliot Kavee on drums. "White Wednesday Off The Wall" opens the album in a slow and probing fashion, with spaceous acoustic guitar and some beautiful flute over gently flatulent trombone. "To Undertake My Corners Open" has the full band developing a complex sound with individual instruments bubbling out of the collective to take a brief lead before falling back into the bobbling boil. Ellman takes a low key and thoughtful solo and Threadgill responds with some sweet flute that is lyrical and beautiful. "Chairmaster" has bumpin' tuba and drums that are fast and rhythmic. Flute and tuba make for an interesting sound, and guitar commentary probes the open spaces. Threadgill switches to alto saxophone on "After Some Time" and leads a fast full band improvisation. He channels the spirit of Eric Dolphy in a leeping and lunging solo that is very exciting. "Sap" is another thrilling performance, beginning with a drum solo and then evolving into an exciting full band improvisation. Storming alto sax improvises over tuba and reall nice guitar work. "Mirror Mirror The Verb" wraps thigs up with a slower, probing coda. This was an exciting and original album from one of the neglected masters of the music. Threadgill's music sounds like nothing else and is instantly memorable and his joyful and impish music is a pleasure to hear. Hopefully, Volume 2 will be on the way shortly. (To be released 10/27/09)

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