Henry Threadgill – Tomorrow Sunny/The Revelry, Spp (2012)

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Henry Threadgill is an improviser of the highest order, not because he can improvise on his saxophone or flute, but because he also impovises well with the structure of the song. That creates a unique kind disruption in his music, one that goes in unpredictable — but never random-sounding — directons.

Notoriously unpredictable in that he’s had of career of constantly reinventing his music and changing up his ensembles to fit these creative shifts. Threadgill, though, has settled into a groove of late; his Zooid band has been going on for more about a dozen years, now, a record tenure for a Threadgill-led band. Moreover, after a eight year layover from the first Zooid ablum Up Popped Two Lips, next week’s Tomorrow Sunny/The Revelry, Spp will be his third in as many years.

The same personnel from the 2009-2010 This Brings Us To project are present for Tomorrow: Threadgill, Liberty Ellman on acoustic guitar, Jose Davilia on trombone and tuba duties, Stomu Takeishi on acoustic bass guitar and Elliot H. Kavee behind the drum kit. A cellist, last heard on Lips, returns, this time performed by Christopher Hoffman, making Zooid a sextet once again.

This album is split evenly between three highly syncopated tracks and three desolate, suspended mood pieces. The former set of songs are most fascinating to listen up close because each individual plays a part that makes little sense on its own but all put together, they make up a tightly integrated piece. This approach, portrayed by Threadgill as “music made by allegiance,” has its roots in Threadgill music long before Zooid; you can find these principles being applied to “Little Pocket Sized Demons,” for instance. As a result of such a style, there’s very little distinction between comping and soloing, because the soloists are improvising so within the structure of the song. Threadgill himself steps out from the song a little more than the others, though, whether it’s his sax or flute, and typically waits several minutes into the song before he makes his entry. Both of these tricks have the effect of making his presence a little more dramatic.

Hoffman’s own presence subtly adds another dimension, strengthening the representation of stringed instruments. The meshing between Hoffman’s cello and the similar sounding acoustic guitar of Ellman lies at the heart of what sets this album just a little bit apart from the prior two. It’s there on selections such as the brooding “So Pleased, No Clue,” and is especially out front on “Ambient Pressure Thereby” (YouTube above).

As with most of his albums, Henry Threadgill’s Tomorrow Sunny/The Revelry, Spp presents a puzzle to listener that if you listen to closely enough, you’ll solve it. Once you do, you’ll savor the music even more.

Tomorrow Sunny / The Revelry, Spp becomes available June 12 on the PI Recordings imprint.

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S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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