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Henry Threadgill: Very Very Threadgill 2014

Kurt Gottschalk By

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During an onstage interview, Threadgill had said—albeit with a broad grin— that he considers everything he does to be mainstream. The closing set by the Society Situation Dance Band seemed set to prove that claim, at least initially, for what was likely the second time they've played in North America. (the only other being at the 1998 Texaco NY Jaazz Festival in lower Manhattan). It was also the only set where Threadgill took the stage (or the floor in front of it anyway), conducting the 15-piece band, moving back and forth across the front, smiling and laughing and, yes, dancing. Fay Victor joined the ensemble to belt the bluesy "Everybody Will Hang by the Leg" which ended with her and James Carter, who proved to be the band's MVP, engaging in an impromptu duo and ending the song.

After the first two tunes, however, they submerged into darker climes while still bearing a current of big band Basie, of the tradition. Claudia Acuña joined for the Very Very Circusesque "False Face" Pyeng Threadgill returned for the oddly upbeat "The Last Mango" and they closed with a fantastic, if unlikely, arrangement of the downtempo Make a Move march "The 100 Year Old Game." Empty tables had been pushed back and chair coralled between them and Moran and Harlem Stage Executive Director Patricia Cruz had been the first to take the makeshift dance floor, but it had filled quickly. A boy of about eight breakdanced in the center as trombonist Frank Lacy popped and locked from the bandstand. It was a joyous situation, and if it was hard to say exactly what sort of situation it was it still seemed very, very much the way a society should be.

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