Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Henry Threadgill - Double Up, Plays Double Up Plus (Pi Recordings, 2018)

The second album this year from the legendary composer and milti-reedist Henry Threadgill is a nonet affair, with Curtis Robert Macdonald on alto saxophone, Roman Filiu on alto saxophone and alto flute, Christopher Hoffman on cello, Jose Davila on tuba, David Bryant on piano, Luis Perdomo on piano, David Virelles – piano and harmonium and Craig Weinrib and drums and percussion. "The Game Is Up" opens the album with a massive twenty-two minute sprawl of sound, with strong piano and drumming and raw cello arcing through the music with the tuba acting as its beating heart. Combining harmonium and tuba makes for a fascinating and alien sound as the piano and drums bubble underneath, leading to an off-kilter collective improvisation that uses wonderful colors and textures to create a long form gem. Probing piano and spare saxophone open "Clear and Distinct from the Other A" with bowed bass and low harmonium creating a distinct atmosphere. The sense of space and moody nature of the music is quite cinematic, with bumps of tuba creating unexpected sounds as stronger and sharper saxophone breaks out as they meld into a fascinating full band improvisation, along with a sparkling piano feature. "Clear and Distinct from the Other B" has Davila's Tuba growling underneath, with low cello and piano creating a sound of great substance. Glittering piano and wheezing harmonium add to the soundstage, creating bright and shining music, and everyone comes together in the end for a grand conclusion. The final performance is "Clear and Distinct" where puckered saxophone and tuba meet bowed cello, and a downpour of piano and percussion establishing a deep groove along with the tuba. The music grows bolder and more fierce, with a collective improvisation featuring more crushing piano chords and sparkling keyboard runs, creating a grand finale. This was an excellent album, there is just nobody in jazz that can compose and arrange like Henry Threadgill. His stretch is Ellingtonian, writing for particular instruments including ones like harmonium and tuba (and three pianists!) and allowing opportunities for the musicians to improvise within the unique setting, he is simple a treasure.Double Up Plays Double Up Plus - amazon.com

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