HENRY THREADGILL — Double Up, Plays Double Up Plus (review)

HENRY THREADGILL — Double Up, Plays Double Up Plus album cover Album · 2018 · Avant-Garde Jazz Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
Matt
“Double Up, Play’s Double Up Plus” is the second album featuring Henry Threadgill’s Double Up Ensemble and like the prior Henry is not playing but just using his compositions and arrangements for the band to work around. If one is not sure what the double up pertains to, it is the use of two pianos and for this current release and concerning the plus in the title we have three pianos as Henry Threadgill quotes within the album’s notes. “ It became imperative to write plus.... a third piano added to 1+1, now 1+1+1”. Elementary with the mathematical conclusion making things sound simple but the music contained within is far from that conjecture with the usual complications he inputs into his compositions inserting an Avante Garde element that is always present within. The ensemble almost remains the same as the prior album “Old Locks And Irregular Verbs” except the pianist Jason Moran is no longer here and has been replaced by David Bryant and Luis Perdomo with David Virelles remaining in both recordings. Also we still have two alto saxophonists with the addition of Roman Filiu’ inputting flute in this one which was not present in the prior release. All in all, even though Henry does not play it still sounds distinctly him.

Although the ensemble has eight members the sound at times seems almost singular with just the pianos opening for the album’s first composition being the longest running for nearly 23 minutes, “Game Is Up” with the ensemble following in later on this composition’s ever changing construction with the pianos at times solo or co-joined and other times are separated from the other instruments of primarily the alto, tuba, drums cello and David Virelle’s harmonium. It is not until over half way the ensemble come together in this extremely interesting number. The last three compositions “Clear And Distinct From The Other A”, “Clear And Distinct From The Other B” and “Clear And Distinct” have all different constructions with each starting in a low key manner and keeping with the album’s theme the piano or pianos are accompanied by either alto, flute, drums, tuba where they reside with an almost solo sound within each of the compositions gradually bringing the ensemble forward to where they are all playing together excepting “B”. My pick of them is “Clear And Distinct From The Other B” but I have always loved flute used in this musical concept but there is also some gorgeous piano to add for the last in “Clear And Distinct”. There is a fifth track registered but it is only a vocal description of the album’s theory with the band’s personnel and associated credits read aloud.

Well you cannot say it is not different or original as Henry Threadgill has always maintained that ideology when it comes to his compositions and ensembles and neither could you say it is just a follow up the his prior release “Old Locks And Irregular Verbs” being more subdued having quite different compositions containing more space. Still I had to get it and glad I have.
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