Pi Recordings, under the leadership of Seth Rosner, got its start in 2001 with the simultaneous release of two CDs from avant-garde reedman Henry Threadgill, Everybody's Mouth's A Book, featuring the band Make a Move, and Up Popped The Two Lips, by the Threadgill group Zooid. This was a re-emergence for Threadgill; his three-record deal with Columbia Records had ended in 1996, with the release of Where's Your Cup. He has since made the most of his relationship with Rosner's Pi Recordings, between that 2001 pair of releases and 2016's Old Locks And Irregular Verb, offering up six other extraordinary sets, and grabbing a Pulitzer Prize for 2015's In For A Penny, In For A Pound.
The year 2018 feels like a full-circle for the Threadgill/Pi Recordings teaming, withagainthe simultaneous release of two recordings: Double Up, Plays Double Up Twice and Dirt...And More Dirt.
With his new band featured on Dirt... And More Dirtthe oddly-titled "14 or 15 Kestra: Agg," an ensemble of two pianos, two drummers, a brass/reeds horn section that includes tuba, along with a guitar, a bass and a celloThreadgill crafts a singularly ramshackle-yet-refined sound. His musicespecially since the beginnings of his Pi Recordings dayshas taken on an expansive focus. The ensemble is large, but "everybody playing at once" is a rarity here, with "Part VI" of "Dirt" serving as a gloriously loud exception. For the most part, spaciousness reigns. There are more loose textures floating around than can be counted. It's a music that has no aural comparisons. If large, bold works of fabric artthe loose conglomerations of various cloths and weavings, irregular patches of mostly rustic snippets of rough hewn garmentshad a soundtrack, this would be it. But make it three-dimensional arta big, sprawling 3D fabric sculpture.
Even with two drummers, time seems to be unimportant. It might not exist in Threadgill's world. The music rambles and clunks along, surreal and ethereal at times, then low down and street-wise at others. And unlike his previous Double Up outing, Old Locks and Irregular Verbs and its follow up, Double Up Plays Double Up, here the leader adds his own instrumental voicesalto sax, flute and bass flute.
Henry Threadgill's work on Pi Recordings has brought him out of potential obscurity and tagged him as one of the most important voices in the avant-garde. Dirt... and More Dirt doubles down on that claim.
Dirt - Part I; Dirt - Part II; Dirt - Part III; Dirt - Part IV; Dirt - Part V; Dirt - Part VI; And More Dirt - Part I; And More Dirt - Part II; And More Dirt - Part III; And More Dirt - Part IV.
Henry Threadgill: alto saxophone, flute, bass flute; Chris Hoffman: cello; Liberty Ellman: guitar; Jose Davila: tuba; Ben Gerstein: trombone; Jacob Garchik: trombone; Jonathan Finlayson: Bb trumpet, F trumpet; Stephanie Richards: Bb trumpet; Curtis Robert Macdonald: alto saxophone; Roman Filiú: alto saxophone, alto flute; David Bryant: piano; David Virelles: piano; Thomas Morgan: bass; Elliott Humberto Kavee, Craig Weinrib: drums, percussion.
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