Henry Threadgill

Latest in a long line of jazz greats recently rediscovered… I just listened to Henry Threadgill’s Very Very Circus playing “Hope A Hope A”, from the album Spirit of Nuff… Nuff. Wow. Another song I could stick in my internal jukebox on repeat for the rest of my life. To quote my own Amazon review:

This album has to have one of the weirdest instrumentations ever – the basslines are provided by two tubas, and they back up drums, a pair of electric guitars, a french horn and Threadgill’s saxophone.

It would be be foolish to listen to it for the instrumentation alone, but the resulting sound and timbre does create a unique and magical landscape. Couple that with the Threadgill’s soulful, flowing compositions and the slow, sonorous lament of all the brass instruments interrupted by the odd skronk on electric guitar, and this is a truly beautiful and moving album.

(actually, I think the album has a trombone, not the french horn which replaced it when I saw the Very Very circus live – what a gig that was, with 19-year-old Gene Lake driving the musicians along with some of the most spirited drumming ever heard).

(Also actually, it’s not the weirdest instrumentation ever. On a later album, Threadgill added an accordian, violin, African percussion, singers and something which sounds like a balalaika… and sounded damned good for it).