Henry Threadgill is one of the great musical masterminds of the past quarter century – a composer, arranger, and innovator who transcends genres in contemporary music. A multi instrumentalist whose principle axes include alto sax and flute, Threadgill emerged from Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. Tonight He presents “All the Way Light Tough” with his band Zooid commissioned by Roulette with funds by the Baisley Powell Elebash Trust and is a special shooting for the next edition of Roulette TV.
“It would be difficult to overestimate Henry Threagill’s role in perpetually altering the meaning of jazz..”¦He has changed our underlying assumptions of what jazz can and should be.”
Henry Threadgill, is both a composer and multi-instrumentalist. He studied at the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago. He co-majored in piano and flute, along with composition. He has had a music career for over forty years as both a leader and as a composer.
Threadgill’s music has been performed by many of his long lasting instrumental ensembles, including the trio Air, the seven-piece Sextett, Very Very Circus, twenty-piece Society Situation Dance Band, X-75, Make a Move, Aggregation Orb, and his current group Zooid. He has recorded many albums as a leader of various ensembles.
Henry Threadgill’s works for large orchestras, such as ËœRun Silent, Run Deep, Run Loud, Run High” (conducted by Hale Smith), and “Mix for Orchestra” (conducted by Dennis Russell Davies) were both premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1987 and 1993 respectively.
Pi Recordings is excited to announce the release of an important new recording, This Brings Us To, from Henry Threadgill with his band Zooid. Threadgill is one of the most highly respected composers / conceptualists in music today: He was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2003 and a United States Artist Fellowship in 2008. An early member of the influential Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), Threadgill continues to hold fast to that august organization’s tenets: keeping an open mind to all creative possibilities and continuing to seek new challenges. He has intensively studied the music of everyone from Igor Stravinsky, Edgard VarÃ¨se, Luciano Berio to Mario BauzÃ¡, along with the music of Bali, India, the West Indies and Japan and filters all of these and other influences through jazz, R&B and the blues to come up with compositions that are distinctly his own.
This Brings Us To is the first release from Threadgill since 2001’s Everybodys Mouth’s a Book (Pi01) and Up Popped the Two Lips (Pi02). He has spent those eight years, the longest time between releases in his career, creating and perfecting a new system of improvisation in a group setting. A zooid is a cell that is able to move independently of the larger organism to which it belongs, an apt description of the musical language that Threadgill has developed for this band. The 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. The system provides the framework for open dialogue within the group while encouraging the musicians to seek new ways to improvise, away from a reliance on chord changes, scales or any of the clichés of certain “free” jazz. The music is coupled with complex rhythms, another distinctive aspect of all of Threadgill’s music. He was among the first in jazz to use constantly shifting meters, which creates a layered rhythmic effect, while maintaining a steady pulse. Despite its rhythmic intricacy, his music maintains a grooving, funky vibe, even though there is rarely a “1” to be found anywhere. This quality, later co-opted by Steve Coleman, Greg Osby, Cassandra Wilson and the M-Base Collective, has had a profound effect on much of the music and the drumming styles that one hears in jazz today.