Here, one modern era jazz innovator pays homage to another modern era jazz innovator. The premise for this album is framed on Henry Threadgill's friendship and admiration to the late composer-conductor Butch Morris who cunningly established a new twist on large ensemble conduction processes. And the Ensemble Double Up is viewed as an extension to Threadgill's long-running Zooid band, now featuring two alto saxophonists and two pianists. Consequently, he doesn't play alto sax on this outing, devised on a four-part composition.
" Part 3" is a 16-minute work, constructed with a buoyant and slightly staggered medium-tempo modality. Cellist Christopher Hoffman launches the festivities with a rough-hewn arco solo, signaling drummer Craig Weinrib's loosely executed patterns, as he keenly provides an ongoing cadence with his steadily paced ride cymbal work. One of the rather mystifying components is that the band renders an implied rhythmic gait that elicits a foreboding undercurrent. Pianists Jason Moran and David Virelles render single note voicings and are stereophonically separated between the left and right channels. The same audio process applies to alto saxophonists, Curtis MacDonald and Roman Filiu. Nonetheless, Threadgill's compositions are demanding, even though he affords the soloists plenty of improvisational space but from a structural perspective, a few misplaced notes can throw matters out of whack.
The soloists each take turns circumnavigating the principle theme and tempo amid key movements where convergence takes place via odd-metered unison choruses. The piece abruptly stops then reformulates into a new episode a few minutes prior to the finale, as the musicians engage in informal, conversational dialogues. Consistent with Threadgill's previous works, this music is by no means background music. His artistry and complex outlook is embedded with all-embracing developments that tend to mesmerize the willing listener.
Part One; Part Two; Part Three; Part Four.
Henry Threadgill: composition; Jason Moran: piano; David Virelles: piano; Roman Filiu: alto saxophone; Curtis MacDonald: alto saxophone; Christopher Hoffman: cello; Jose Davila: tuba; Craig Weinrib: drums.
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