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Henry Threadgill Zooid: In for a Penny, In for a Pound

Mark F. Turner By

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Don't call this jazz. In a 2013 interview with Larry Appelbaum at the Library of Congress, saxophonist, flautist, and composer Henry Threadgill, in so many words, denounced the association of labelling his music with a diluted categorization. Having performed with free thinking musicians like Muhal Richard Abrams and Anthony Braxton; lead highly regarded and out of the mainstream groups such as Air, Very Very Circus, and currently and arguably his best ensemble, Zooid; Threadgill continues to orbit around forward thinking ideas of composition and improvisation. At 71 years old, his creative juices and inquisitive fire has not diminished as the 2 disc recording In for a Penny, In for a Pound confirms.

Like previous Zooid releases, the ideas of contrapuntalism are thoroughly examined through quintet of consummate musicians, each voice autonomous yet intertwined lie a web; separate conversations within harmonically rich discourses. As stated in Threadgill's liner notes, In for a Penny, In for a Pound consists of individual sections focused on a different instrument. For instance, "Ceroepic" (for drums and percussion) clocks in at nearly twenty minutes and highlights not only Elliot Humberto Kavee's stellar drumming but memorable negotiations from the other band members. Other sections—cello, trombone, tuba, and guitar—connect together to form a singular piece of captivating and challenging music that requires both an open mind and a discerning ear.

An unusual array of sounds and textures finds harmony. Jose Davila brings guttural tuba growls but also a spacious muted trombone solo ("Tresepic"). Liberty Ellman's acoustic guitar plucks and expands into wildly imaginative explorations ("Unoepic") and Christopher Hoffman violincello chops and slashes ("Dosepic"). A masterful musician Threadgill's flute weaves feathery patterns with bursts of speed or soft hushes and he's also equally convincing in his brief moments on alto sax. The band's synergy is telepathic.

Interestingly, Threadgill also mentions that he intended the work to be played in chamber-listening spaces. It indeed shares familiarity with some progressive modern classical pieces but totally turned inside out. But listen closely and you also can hear pocketed grooves and eclectic music that can't be easily defined genre or location. This is totally Threadgill. In for a Penny, In for a Pound would challenge what you think about music. Not just jazz, classical, funk, world, etc... any music.

Track Listing: In For A Penny, In For A Pound (Opening); Ceroepic (For Drums And Percussion); Dosepic (For Cello); Off The Prompt Box (Exordium); Tresepic (For Trombone And Tuba); Unoepic (For Guitar).

Personnel: Henry Threadgill: alto saxophone, flute, bass flute; Jose Davila: trombone, tuba; Liberty Ellman: guitar; Christopher Hoffman: violoncello; Elliot Humberto Kavee: drums, percussion.

Title: In For A Penny, In For A Pound | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Pi Recordings

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