Monday, January 4, 2010

An Album a day, #4: Henry Threadgill, "Song Out Of My Trees," 1994

Henry Threadgill, "Song out of My Trees," 1994. Threadgill is perhaps the most important composer in avant-garde jazz of the last few decades, writing not only heads but entire arrangements and structures (he is probably Mingus's greatest heir in this respect). More than that, he has an ear for ...instrumental tone and orchestration that perhaps rivals Anton Webern's. "Song out of My Trees" especially highlights this side of his musicianship, with atypical instrumentation, and even with Threadgill sitting out two of the five sides--indeed, perhaps the two most beautiful pieces on the record. They are scored for guitar quartet and, respectively, piano and hunting horn. "Grief," on which Threadgill plays his alto accompanied by two cellos, harpsichord, and accordion, is also stunning. I love all of HT's work, but sometimes I feel that this album, liberated from many of the genre requirements of "jazz," best does justice to his angular melodies and melancholy chordal world.

(Sorry, can't find any videos, but snippets can be heard here.)

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