Henry Threadgill

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Henry Threadgill
Henry Threadgill1.jpg
Henry Threadgill at Keystone Korner, San Francisco CA 4/5/79 w/AIR, including Fred Hopkins & Steve McCall
Background information
Birth nameHenry Luther Threadgill
Born (1944-02-15) February 15, 1944 (age 77)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Genres Jazz, avant-garde jazz, free jazz
Occupation(s)Musician, composer
InstrumentsSaxophone, flute
Years active1960s–present
Labels Arista/Novus, About Time, Black Saint, Columbia, Pi
Associated acts AACM, Air, Muhal Richard Abrams, Billy Bang, Anthony Braxton, Craig Harris, Leroy Jenkins, Roscoe Mitchell
Website www.henrythreadgill.com

Henry Threadgill (born February 15, 1944) is an American composer, saxophonist and flautist. [1] He came to prominence in the 1970s leading ensembles rooted in jazz but with unusual instrumentation and often incorporating other genres of music. He has performed and recorded with several ensembles: Air, Aggregation Orb, Make a Move, the seven-piece Henry Threadgill Sextett, the twenty-piece Society Situation Dance Band, Very Very Circus, X-75, and Zooid.

Contents

He was awarded the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Music for his album In for a Penny, In for a Pound , [2] which premiered at Roulette Intermedium on December 4, 2014 [3]

Career

Threadgill performed as a percussionist in his high-school marching band before taking up baritone saxophone, alto saxophone, and flute. He studied at the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago, majoring in piano, flute, and composition. He studied piano with Gail Quillman and composition with Stella Roberts. [2] He was an original member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) in his hometown of Chicago and worked under the guidance of Muhal Richard Abrams before leaving to tour with a gospel band. In 1967, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, playing with a rock band in Vietnam during the Vietnam War in 1967 and 1968. He was discharged in 1969.

After returning to Chicago, Threadgill joined fellow AACM members bassist Fred Hopkins and drummer Steve McCall in a trio which would eventually become the group Air. He moved to New York City, where he formed his first group, X-75, a nonet consisting of four reed players, four bass players, and a vocalist.

In the early 1980s, Threadgill created his first critically acclaimed ensemble as a leader, the Henry Threadgill Sextet (actually a septet; he counted the two drummers as a single percussion unit), [4] which released three albums on About Time Records. After a hiatus, he formed New Air with Pheeroan akLaff, replacing Steve McCall on drums, and reformed the Henry Threadgill Sextett (with two t's at the end). The six albums the group recorded feature some of his most accessible work, notably on the album You Know the Number . The group's unorthodox instrumentation included two drummers, double bass, cello, trumpet, and trombone, in addition to Threadgill's alto saxophone and flute. Among the players were drummers akLaff, John Betsch, Reggie Nicholson and Newman Baker; bassist Fred Hopkins; cellist Diedre Murray; trumpeters Rasul Siddik and Ted Daniels; cornetist Olu Dara; and trombonists Ray Anderson, Frank Lacy, Bill Lowe, and Craig Harris.

During the 1990s, Threadgill pushed the musical boundaries even further with his ensemble Very Very Circus. The group consisted of two tubas, two electric guitars, a trombone or French horn, and drums. With this group he explored more complex and highly structured forms of composition, augmenting the group with Latin percussion, French horn, violin, accordion, vocalists, and exotic instruments. He composed and recorded with other unusual instruments, such as a flute quartet (Flute Force Four, a one-time project from 1990); and combinations of four cellos and four acoustic guitars (on Makin' a Move).

He was signed by Columbia Records for three albums. Since the dissolution of Very Very Circus, Threadgill has continued in his iconoclastic ways with ensembles such as Make a Move and Zooid. Zooid, currently a sextet with tuba (Jose Davila), acoustic guitar (Liberty Ellman), cello (Christopher Hoffman), drums (Elliot Kavee) and bass guitar (Stomu Takeishi), has been the primary vehicle for Threadgill's compositions in the 2000s.

In 2018 Threadgill composed the string quartet Sixfivetwo for the Kronos Quartet, which they recorded as part of their "Fifty for the Future" project. [5]

Awards and honors

In 2016, Threadgill's composition In for a Penny, In for a Pound was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music.

In July 2016, he received the Vietnam Veterans of America Excellence in the Arts Award at the VVA National Leadership Conference in Tucson.

"Run Silent, Run Deep, Run Loud, Run High" (conducted by Hale Smith) and "Mix for Orchestra" (conducted by Dennis Russell Davies), were both premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1987 and 1993 respectively. He has had commissions from Mordine & Company in 1971 and 1989, from Carnegie Hall for "Quintet for Strings and Woodwinds" in 1983 and 1985, the New York Shakespeare Festival in 1985, Bang on a Can All-Stars in 1995, "Peroxide" commissioned by the Miller Theatre Columbia University in 2003 for "Aggregation Orb", a commission from the Talujon Percussion Ensemble in 2008, a piece "Fly Fliegen Volar" commissioned and premiered at the Saalfelden Jazz Festival with the Junge Philharmonie Salzburg Orchestra in 2007, a premier of the piece "Mc Guffins" with Zooid at the Biennale Festival in Italy in 2004 to name some.

In October 2020, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced Threadgill as one of four recipients of the NEA Jazz Masters Fellowships, celebrated in an online concert and show on 22 April 2021. Awarded in recognition of lifetime achievement, the honor is bestowed on individuals who have made significant contributions to the art form. The other 2021 recipients were Terri Lyne Carrington, Albert "Tootie" Heath, and Phil Schaap. [6]

Personal life

Threadgill was born in Chicago. [7] He studied piano, flute, and composition at the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago, and Governors State University, in University Park, Illinois. [8] He was a member of the US Army Concert Band, and served in Vietnam. [9] He is married to recording artist and ethnomusicologist Senti Toy, also known as Sentienla Toy Threadgill. [10]

Discography

As leader/co-leader

Air

X-75

Henry Threadgill Sextett

Very Very Circus

Make a Move

Zooid

Ensemble Double Up

14 or 15 Kestra: Agg

As sideman

With Muhal Richard Abrams

With Anthony Braxton

With Chico Freeman

With Roscoe Mitchell

With Frank Walton

With David Murray

With Material / Bill Laswell

With Sly & Robbie / Bill Laswell

With Carlinhos Brown / Bill Laswell

With Leroy Jenkins

With Kip Hanrahan

With Billy Bang

With Sola

With Abiodun Oyewole

With Flute Force Four (Threadgill, Pedro Eustache, Melecio Magdaluyo, James Newton)

With Douglas Ewart

With Jean-Paul Bourelly

With Ejigayehu "Gigi" Shibabaw

With Lucky Peterson

With Dafnis Prieto

With Wadada Leo Smith

With Jack DeJohnette

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<i>X-75 Volume 1</i> 1979 studio album by Henry Threadgill

X-75 Volume 1 is the debut album by Henry Threadgill released on the Arista Novus label in 1979. The album and features four of Threadgill's compositions performed by Threadgill with Douglas Ewart, Joseph Jarman, Wallace McMillan, Leonard Jones, Brian Smith, Rufus Reid, Fred Hopkins and vocals by Amina Claudine Myers. The Allmusic review by Brian Olewnick states, "Henry Threadgill's first album as a leader immediately plunged into experimental waters. He utilized a nonet the likes of which had certainly never been heard before and probably not since... Threadgill's massive talent for mid-size band arrangements is immediately apparent... As of 2002, X-75, Vol. 1 was unreleased on disc and, even more disappointingly, there was never a "Vol. 2." But Threadgill fans looking for a link between Air and his Sextett owe it to themselves to search this one out".

<i>You Know the Number</i> 1986 studio album by Henry Threadgill

You Know the Number is an album by Henry Threadgill released on the RCA Novus label in 1986. The album and features six of Threadgill's compositions performed by Threadgill's Sextett with Frank Lacy, Rasul Siddik, Fred Hopkins, Diedre Murray, Pheeroan akLaff and Reggie Nicholson.

<i>Easily Slip Into Another World</i> 1987 studio album by Henry Threadgill

Easily Slip Into Another World is an album by saxophonist/composer Henry Threadgill, recorded for the RCA Novus label in 1987.

<i>Up Popped the Two Lips</i> 2001 studio album by Henry Threadgill

Up Popped the Two Lips is an album by Henry Threadgill featuring seven of Threadgill's compositions performed by Threadgill's Zooid. The album was the second album on the Pi Records label and was released simultaneously with Everybodys Mouth's a Book by Threadgill & Make a Move in 2001.

<i>This Brings Us to Volume 1</i> 2009 studio album by Henry Threadgill

This Brings Us to Volume 1 is an album by Henry Threadgill featuring six of Threadgill's compositions performed by Threadgill's Zooid. The album, Threadgill's first in eight years besides the limited edition Pop Start the Tape, Stop (2005), was released on the Pi Recordings label in 2009.

<i>In for a Penny, In for a Pound</i> 2015 studio album by Henry Threadgill

In for a Penny, In for a Pound is an album composed by Henry Threadgill for his jazz quintet Zooid, featuring Jose Davila, Liberty Ellman, Christopher Hoffman, and Elliot Humberto Kavee. It was released by Pi Recordings and was awarded the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Music.

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<i>Tomorrow Sunny / The Revelry, Spp</i> 2012 studio album by Henry Threadgill

Tomorrow Sunny / The Revelry, Spp is an album by American jazz saxophonist Henry Threadgill with his band Zooid, featuring Jose Davila on trombone and tuba, Liberty Ellman on guitar, Stomu Takeishi on bass guitar, Elliot Humberto Kavee on drums, and new member Christopher Hoffman on cello, who joined the group making it a sextet. It was recorded in 2011 and released on Pi Recordings.

<i>This Brings Us to Volume 2</i> 2010 studio album by Henry Threadgill

This Brings Us to Volume 2 is an album by American jazz saxophonist Henry Threadgill with his band Zooid, featuring Jose Davila on trombone and tuba, Liberty Ellman on guitar, Stomu Takeishi on bass guitar, and Elliot Humberto Kavee on drums. It was recorded in 2008 and released on Pi Recordings.

References

  1. Chris Kelsey (1944-02-15). "Henry Threadgill | Biography & History". AllMusic . Retrieved 2016-11-21.
  2. 1 2 Chinen, Nate (18 April 2016). "At Last, a Box Henry Threadgill Fits Nicely Into: Pulitzer Winner". The New York Times . Retrieved 19 April 2016.
  3. "Henry Threadgill – Roulette". Roulette.org. 2014-07-22. Retrieved 2016-11-21.
  4. Giddins, Gary, and Scott DeVeaux (2009), Jazz, New York: W.W. Norton & Co, ISBN   978-0-393-06861-0
  5. "Henry Threadgill: Sixfivetwo". kronosquartet.com. Retrieved 2021-02-01.
  6. Beete, Paulette. "Congratulations to the 2021 National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters". www.arts.gov. National Endowment for the Arts. Archived from the original on 30 November 2020. Retrieved 29 April 2021.
  7. "Henry Threadgill". Hyde Park Jazz Festival. Retrieved 2017-11-23.
  8. "Henry Threadgill, American musician". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2017-11-23.
  9. Henry Threadgill: Dirt, and More Dirt , retrieved 2017-11-23 Meet the Composer Podcast, WXQR.
  10. "Did You Know About Pulitzer Prize Winner Henry Threadgill's NE Connect?". Eclectic Northeast. October 15, 2016.