Saturday, June 23, 2012

Henry Threadgill - The Complete Remastered Recordings on Black Saint and Soul Note (CAMJazz, 2012)

The iconoclastic composer and multi-instrumentalist made several albums as a leader or as a cooperative member for the Italian Black Saint/Soul Note group of labels during the 1970's and 1980's. These albums gave Threadgill's fertile imagination free reign, and allowed him to experiment with many groups of instrumentalists and forms of music. As a part of the cooperative group Air, Threadgill plays alto saxophone and flute in tandem with Fred Hopkins on bass and Steve McCall on drums. On this set, they are represents by the albums Live Air, Air Mail, as well as Live at the Montreal International Jazz Festival and Air Show Number One where they were billed as New Air, with some changes in personal. The music of Air is spacious and free, with the object of the improvisations and compositions being a reflection of the collective group rather then a collection of soloists with accompanists. Threadgill's solo work is represented here with two albums, Spirit of Nuff... Nuff, and Song Out Of My Trees. These albums show him stepping out of the rather austere feeling of the Air group and allowing his unique compositional sense to flow through a series of intricate compositions, using a palette of different instruments and musicians. Threadgill is one of the most non-dogmatic of jazz composers, if that label fits him at all, with his influences ranging from rhythm and blues to modern classical music, all melded through his own musical sensibility. Melding guitars, cellos and unusual instruments like accordion along with his saxophone and flute his original music is haunting and memorable. The final disc is an album called Flute Force Four by a collective group entitled Fluistry. Combining four flutes in a World Saxophone Quartet like feel offers some very interesting textural possibilities for the musicians to research, and the music has a a light and nimble sound. This was a really well done collection of Henry Threadgill's music. Showing him in a variety of contexts, you get the full breadth and width of his musical vision. The Complete Remastered Recordings - amazon.com

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