HENRY THREADGILL — Easily Slip Into Another World (review)

HENRY THREADGILL — Easily Slip Into Another World album cover Album · 1988 · Avant-Garde Jazz Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
js
The 1980s are not known for being stellar years for jazz, but there was some great music going on if you knew where to look. One of the brightest stars of that time period was saxophonist and composer Henry Threadgill. Henry was part of a movement, spear headed by the stars of the 60s avant-garde, that was rising above the ashes of the dying fusion scene and bringing back acoustic jazz, but not in a quaint nostalgic way either. Threadgill’s music drew upon his free jazz roots, but also pulled influence from New Orleans brass bands, the blues and almost the entire history of jazz creating a bold vibrant sound that helped clear out the cobwebs left behind by the ebbing fuzak money grab.

In many ways, Threadgill’s ability to combine the past and future of jazz, and his work with creative mid-sized ensembles (mini-big bands), made him the heir apparent to the legacy of Charles Mingus. There are some strong similarities between the two, but whereas Mingus drew upon the musical language of Ellington, Threadgill’s sources are more basic and primitive and draw upon such pan-cultural musical languages as marching tunes, patriotic songs, universal blues and songs of celebration. There is a simple sense of chaotic joy in Threadgill’s music, and that comes through loud and clear on the first three boisterous tracks on this CD. The three tunes that follow are more in an abstract avant-garde style, but are nonetheless very creative, if not quite as “catchy” as the three opening numbers.

This CD closes out with, “Award the Squadtett”, a classic Threadgill composition that takes an exuberant marching tune and treats it to endless modulations and chaotic ensemble interplay raising a joyful noise that transcends time and musical trends. Its really hard to describe Threadgill’s music properly, something this lively, kinetic and sometimes hilarious has to be heard, not talked about.
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