Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

10

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

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
Renowned composer and multi-instrumentalist Henry Threadgill has led a number of critically acclaimed groups since his formative days as a founding member of the AACM, but none have endured as long as Zooid. Formed in 2001, the unit has undergone a few personnel changes over the years, although guitarist Liberty Ellman and tuba player/trombonist Jose Davila have been involved since the ensemble's inception. The current configuration is completed by cellist Christopher Hoffman and drummer Elliot Humberto Kavee, making this particular incarnation a quintet.

Threadgill's writing for Zooid involves assigning specific interval blocks to each musician, allowing them to work independently of the group while cooperatively maintaining an overall sense of melodic, harmonic and rhythmic structure. This democratic conception of controlled collective improvisation transcends conventional norms, erasing boundaries between the frontline and rhythm section, as individual members' contributions ebb and flow from background to foreground, blurring the distinction between accompanist and soloist.

In the liner notes, Threadgill describes In for a Penny, In for a Pound as a six-part "epic" to be performed in chamber-listening spaces. Composed of four episodic movements each based around a different instrument, the labyrinthine program is bookended by a brief fanfare and central exordium designed to introduce the set's second half. The titular opener features a beguiling latticework of contrapuntal harmonies, kaleidoscopic textures and modulating polyrhythms, setting the stage for the panoramic sweep of the suite's long-form narratives.

Veering from spare pointillism to rhythmic expressionism, the band members' protean individualism conspires towards a unified goal throughout the proceedings. Together, the leader's earthy abstractions, Ellman's flinty interpolations, Hoffman's sinewy ruminations, Davila's lyrical musings and Kavee's steely accents yield a synergistic whole greater than the sum of its parts.

Conjuring a wide array of moods, Threadgill's use of "epic" to describe Zooid's most ambitious recording to date is entirely appropriate. He incorporates elements of vernacular forms (blues, marches, spirituals, etc.) into these expansive compositions, recalling the AACM's motto, "Great Black Music, Ancient to the Future" in the process. A multifaceted endeavor that reveals new details on each listen, In for a Penny, In for a Pound provides compelling proof of Threadgill's continued relevance as a modern master of creative improvised 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


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Rain or Shine CD/LP/Track Review Rain or Shine
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 15, 2017
Read Lighthouse CD/LP/Track Review Lighthouse
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 15, 2017
Read Copenhagen Live 1964 CD/LP/Track Review Copenhagen Live 1964
by John Sharpe
Published: December 15, 2017
Read Somewhere Glimmer CD/LP/Track Review Somewhere Glimmer
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 15, 2017
Read Lattice CD/LP/Track Review Lattice
by John Sharpe
Published: December 14, 2017
Read I Think I’m Going To Eat Dessert CD/LP/Track Review I Think I’m Going To Eat Dessert
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 14, 2017
Read "Desert Pulse" CD/LP/Track Review Desert Pulse
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 30, 2017
Read "The Dreamer Is the Dream" CD/LP/Track Review The Dreamer Is the Dream
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 21, 2017
Read "Hauptbahnhof" CD/LP/Track Review Hauptbahnhof
by Anthony Shaw
Published: April 4, 2017
Read "Honey And Salt" CD/LP/Track Review Honey And Salt
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 10, 2017
Read "Out Of Silence" CD/LP/Track Review Out Of Silence
by Mark Corroto
Published: November 17, 2017
Read "Blue Maqams" CD/LP/Track Review Blue Maqams
by John Kelman
Published: October 13, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!