354

Henry Threadgill Zooid: This Brings Us To, Volume 1

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
Henry Threadgill Zooid: This Brings Us To, Volume 1 Pi Recordings was founded in 2001 to release a pair of albums by legendary AACM composer/multi-instrumentalist Henry Threadgill, the electric Everybody's Mouth's a Book (with Make a Move) and acoustic Up Popped the Two Lips (with Zooid). This Brings Us To, Volume 1 is his first commercially released recording in eight years—a homecoming of sorts for both Pi and Threadgill.

Threadgill's longstanding quintet features Liberty Ellman (acoustic guitar), Jose Davila (trombone and tuba), Stomu Takeishi (acoustic bass guitar) and Elliot Humberto Kavee (drums). Zooid has been Threadgill's primary working ensemble since the beginning of the Millennium, replacing the electrified Very Very Circus and Make a Move bands of the nineties. Revealing a studied rapport, each member of the quintet has longstanding ties to the leader; all are veteran members of Zooid except for Takeishi, who was in Make a Move.

A zooid is "a cell capable of independent motion within a living organism." Transposing the concept to his expansive writing, Threadgill assigns separate interval blocks to each musician, allowing them to operate independently of the group while collectively maintaining an overall sense of melodic, harmonic and rhythmic structure.

Complementing these contrapuntal themes is a bevy of intricate, multi-layered rhythms. Though the downbeats are far from obvious, the polyrhythmic undercurrent is relentless, stirring even in the sparest setting. Informed by years of experience, Davila, Takeishi and Kavee negotiate the unusual meters and thorny contours of these labyrinthine structures with aplomb.

Equally inspired by the work of the Western neo-classicists as Afro-Cuban rhythms and traditional Javanese Gamelan, Threadgill brings a rhythmically charged, theatrical air to his bluesy, R&B inflected compositions. Arranging the album's six songs into a dramatic arc, the set progressively intensifies, mirroring Threadgill's switch from flute to alto. Opening and closing the album at extreme ends of the spectrum, "White Wednesday Off the Wall" embodies the pastoral qualities of pointillist chamber music while "Mirror Mirror the Verb" is a terse exercise in fractious abstraction. In-between, the brisk flute driven numbers "To Undertake My Corners Open" and "Chairmaster" careen with quicksilver precision, while the vociferous "After Some Time" and "Sap" exude a raw, primal quality.

Ellman and Threadgill share the spotlight as the quintet's primary soloists, alternating circuitous statements with ebullient glee. Unleashing blistering salvos that encompass a multitude of Eastern and Western traditions, Ellman's splintery acoustic fretwork offers a rich contrast to the leader's sonorous phrasing. Threadgill unfurls fluid variations from his vocally expressive flute on the first half of the album, tortuous bluesy cadences from his acerbic alto on the second.

Despite its relatively brief duration (39 minutes), This Brings Us To, Volume 1 is a spectacular return from an important jazz composer, and is hopefully an indicator of more to come from Threadgill and Zooid.


Track Listing: White Wednesday Off the Wall; To Undertake My Corners Open; Chairmaster; After Some Time; Sap; Mirror Mirror the Verb.

Personnel: Henry Threadgill: alto saxophone, flute; Liberty Ellman: acoustic guitar; Jose Davila: trombone, tuba; Stomu Takeishi: acoustic bass guitar; Elliot Humberto Kavee: drums.

Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Pi Recordings | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Transparent Water CD/LP/Track Review Transparent Water
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Billows Of Blue CD/LP/Track Review Billows Of Blue
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Love Dance CD/LP/Track Review Love Dance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Honest Woman CD/LP/Track Review Honest Woman
by James Nadal
Published: February 20, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Final Concert CD/LP/Track Review The Final Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: February 19, 2017
Read "Oscar, with Love" CD/LP/Track Review Oscar, with Love
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 19, 2016
Read "Fugitive Beauté" CD/LP/Track Review Fugitive Beauté
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 11, 2016
Read "WANDERlust" CD/LP/Track Review WANDERlust
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 19, 2016
Read "Layers" CD/LP/Track Review Layers
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 1, 2016
Read "Handel:  Complete Harpsichord Music" CD/LP/Track Review Handel: Complete Harpsichord Music
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 2, 2016
Read "Collage of Moments" CD/LP/Track Review Collage of Moments
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: February 17, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

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!

Buy it!