Henry Threadgill Zooid Tomorrow Sunny / The Revelry, Spp
Henry Threadgill was among the earliest members of Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. Having participated in polka, Dixieland and big band jam sessions, and having studied modern classical composers like Varèse and Hindemith, Threadgill was built for the AACM’s eclectic approach.
He’s led several bands over the ensuing decades, most notably Air with Fred Hopkins and Steve McCall, and Very Very Circus, a sextet featuring the unusual line-up of two tubas, two guitars and drums, along with Threadgill’s saxophones and flutes. Zooid has been around since 2001 and continues in this tradition of innovation within non-standard instrumentation.
Zooid’s members have fluctuated over the years. The sextet on this fifth album includes original members Liberty Ellman on acoustic guitar and Jose Davila on tuba and trombone, Stomu Takeishi on fretless bass guitar, Elliot Humberto Kavee on drums and the cello of newcomer Christopher Hoffman.
Like many of his AACM cohorts, Threadgill has ignored the boundaries between classical, jazz and world genres in developing his own system. The sextet are free to improvise, but in a highly structured way. Simultaneous soloing from all players updates the New Orleans tradition, but within a completely new harmonic methodology. Taking three-note chords, any interval present in the chord can be used to construct lines inside the system. This provides a strong coherency to the music, even though it has no heads, choruses or traditional harmony. Members exchange roles, with tuba or guitar playing bass lines as the bass solos, and vice versa. Threadgill’s stuttering sax excursions and Ellman’s highly melodic angular lines are particularly noteworthy. An ever-present groove keeps the music grounded, floating lightly, yet consistently funky.
But you do not need to know any of that to appreciate the music, which soars above the theoretical strata. Take a track like “Ambient Pressure Thereby” out for a spin, and it is hard to listen to anything else for a while after.
Riff Raff/Major Lazer/Davoodi, “Birth of an Icon” (Original Don remix)
Anyone who’s still up after Pride weekend and just NEEDS TO KEEP MOVING, coordination be damned, get sucked into this manic mecha-rap jam.
Animal Collective, “Today’s Supernatural”
If your Pride hangover has left you craving strange eye candy, see what happens when a hipster parade float breaks away and heads for the desert.