Henry Threadgill's new epic work in four movements written specifically to feature each of the musicians in Zooid: "Ceroepic" for Elliott Kavee (drums), "Dosepic" for Christopher Hoffman (cello), "Tresepic" for Jose Davila (trombone & tuba), and "Unoepic" for Liberty Ellman (guitar).
Threadgill, Henry & Zooid
In for a Penny, In for a Pound [2 CDs]
Label: Pi Recordings
Released in: USA
"In for a Penny, In for a Pound is the latest installment in saxophonist/ flutist/composer Henry Threadgill's ongoing exploration of his singular system for integrating composition with group improvisation. The music for his band Zooid, his main music-making vehicle for the past fourteen years and the longest running band of his illustrious forty plus-year career, is no less than his attempt to completely deconstruct standard jazz form, steering the improvisatory language towards an entirely new system based on preconceived series of intervals. His compositions create a polyphonic platform that encourages each musician to improvise with an ear for counterpoint and, in the process, creating striking new harmonies.
Threadgill is widely considered to be among the most important artists in jazz. The New York Times called him "one of the most thrillingly elusive composers in and around the jazz idiom: a sly maestro of unconventional timbres, bristling counterpoint and tough but slippery rhythms" and NPR called him "a true idiosyncratic great." He is a founding member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), which is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its founding this year, and continues to adhere to one of that august organization's basic tenets: that of finding on's individual path through original music. Threadgill continues to challenge himself to create music that is pushing the boundaries for what is possible.
The new work, which Threadgill calls an "epic," includes four main movements written specifically to feature each of the musicians in Zooid: "Ceroepic" for Elliott Kavee on drums and percussion, "Dosepic" for Christopher Hoffman on cello, "Tresepic" for Jose Davila on trombone and tuba, and "Unoepic" for Liberty Ellman on guitar. They are introduced by an opening shorter piece and sandwich an exordium ("In for a Penny, In for a Pound" and "Off The Prompt Box," respectively.) Threadgill's own alto saxophone, flute and bass flute is woven throughout each section. In for a Penny, In for a Pound utilizes, as with all of his music for Zooid, a strategy of Threadgill's own device: a set of three note intervals assigned to each player that serves as the starting point for improvisation. While this may seem simple on the surface, the juxtaposition of the notes played on each instruments alternately meld and clash, creating surprising chords and harmonies on-the-spot. Not held together by any chordal preconceptions, the result is true, improvised four-part polyphony. Of this music, Liberty Ellman, who will release Radiate, his first new album as a leader since 2006's Ophiuchus Butterfly later this year, says: "Henry is extending the forms and writing more varied thematic material. There is even more dynamic and timbral contrast with ensemble vignettes turning to sparse monologues or group improvisation on the turn of a dime." Zooid is certainly the only group able to perform these compositions since they involve a wholly different way of engaging in group improvisation. Thoroughly attuned with each other, the band continues to provide Threadgill with the foundation to expand on his ever evolving musical inspirations.
In all the discussion about the complex terrain of his compositions, it is sometimes easy to lose sight of Threadgill's power as a player. In his review of Zooid's performance at the Village Vanguard in 2014, the first time Threadgill had played at that iconic venue as a leader in almost 25 years, critic Ben Ratliff of the New York Times, who chose it as one of his top ten top concerts of the year, wrote: "The intensifying strokes were his alto saxophone solos. They were built of epigrammatic phrases, aligned with the moving intervals but pivoting off from them. They were out in front, gestural, actorly, elegant, noisy and tragic. Dealt in short segments, their essence could be absorbed piece by piece, as if he were feeding you with crumbs. They'd often end without traditional resolution, but with a sense of something serious hanging in the air." A great Threadgill solo sets you on edge: you know that it's going to be a jab, an uppercut or a body blow, but you never know how or when it's going to hit you. It's the same way with his compositions on In for a Penny, In for a Pound: it comes at you from every angle, at different speeds, in infinite combinations. That's the beauty of Threadgill's music for Zooid: that sense of constant surprise."-Pi RecordingsAlso available on vinyl LP.
Biography for: Henry Threadgill
"Henry Threadgill (born February 15, 1944) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer, saxophonist and flautist, who came to prominence in the 1970s leading ensembles with unusual instrumentation and often incorporating a range of non-jazz genres.
Threadgill 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. He has been a bandleader and composer for over forty years. He was awarded the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Music for his composition In for a Penny, In for a Pound, which premiered at Roulette Intermedium on December 4, 2014
Threadgill 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."-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Threadgill)
Biography for: Liberty Ellman
"Based in Brooklyn New York, guitarist / composer Liberty Ellman has performed and or recorded with a host of stand out creative artists including: Joe Lovano, Myra Melford, Wadada Leo Smith, Butch Morris, Vijay Iyer, Steve Lehman, Greg Osby, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Nels Cline, Somi, Matana Roberts, Ledisi, Michele Rosewoman, Adam Rudolph, Josh Roseman, Barney McAll, Okkyung Lee, Steven Bernstein, Ben Goldberg and John Zorn. In 2014 Ellman worked with Jason Moran on Luanda Kinshasa, a video installation by visionary filmmaker Stan Douglas.
Mr. Ellman is perhaps best known for his long tenure in Henry Threadgill's groundbreaking ensemble, Zooid. The group has recorded several critically lauded albums. Their most recent recording "In For A Penny, In For A Pound" earned a Pulitzer prize for Mr. Threadgill. In addition to playing guitar, Mr. Ellman is credited as producer and mixing engineer on that recording. He has mixed and mastered many other recordings as well, including Gregory Porter's "Be Good," which was nominated for a Grammy.
Ellman has released 4 of his own critically acclaimed albums: Orthodoxy, Tactiles, Ophiuchus Butterfly, and 2015's Radiate on Pi Recordings. His compositional style has been described as "At once highly controlled and recklessly inventive," and the Wall Street Journal said: "Ellman, along with his peers, is helping to define post millennial jazz." Voted #1 Rising Star Guitarist in the 2016 Downbeat Critics Poll, he was also honored in the 2015 Jazz Times expanded critics poll, as one of the four guitarists of the year alongside Bill Frisell, John Scofield and Julian Lage.
Liberty Ellman has also worked beyond the jazz world: hip hop artists Midnight Voices, and The Coup, dance producer DJ Joe Claussell, and worked on remixes of N'Dea Davenport, Chico Freeman, Ann Dyer, Ayo and others. He also made an appearance on the Grammy nominated Groove Collective record, People People Music Music."-Liberty Ellman Website (http://www.libertyellman.com/bio/)
Biography for: Jose Davila
"Tuba player and trombonist Jose Davila is a versatile New York-based musician whose work spans across a broad spectrum of musical genres; everything from traditional to cutting-edge jazz, to salsa and classical music. He is currently a member of Henry Threadgill's Zooid and bands led by guitarist Liberty Ellman and alto saxophonist Steve Lehman. His work with both Threadgill and Ellman extends the tuba from its traditional role as part of the rhythm section to a front-line solo voice. His playing can also be heard on the Grammy-nominated salsa recording "Un Gran Dia en el Barrio from the Spanish Harlem Orchestra and "Remembranzas and "Siguendo la Tradicion from Soneros del Barrio.
Davila has also worked in the bands of Ray Charles, Andrew Hill, Tito Puente, Celia Cruz, Marc Anthony, Eddie Palmieri, Ray Anderson, Butch Morris, Ted Nash, along with the Lincoln Center Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra and the American Symphony and New York City Opera Orchestras.
A native of Puerto Rico who was raised on the East Coast, Jose received his formal musical training from the University of Connecticut and Mannes College of Music."-Pi Recordings (https://pirecordings.com/artist/Jose_Davila)
Biography for: Christopher Hoffman
"Christopher Hoffman is best known as a composer and cellist to an assortment of ensembles, composers, film-makers, songwriters, dancers, improvisers and noizers. He is also a producer, engineer and film composer. Christopher writes for his ensembles Multifariam, The Silver Cord Quintet, Magic Wells and Company of Selves. He currently performs in Henry Threadgill's Zooid (recipient of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize), Dimples & Double-Up Ensemble, Tony Malaby's TubaCello Quartet and Jeremiah Cymerman's Pale Horse"-Christopher Hoffman Website (http://christopherhoffman.com/)
Biography for: Elliot Humberto Kavee
"Elliot Humberto Kavee has performed/recorded ground-breaking new music with Omar Sosa, Joseph Jarman, Henry Threadgill, Steve Coleman, Don Cherry, Cecil Taylor, Francis Wong, Ben Goldberg, John Tchicai, Glenn Horiuchi, Elliot Sharp, Tim Berne, Jon Jang, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Vijay Iyer, and his own projects. Before moving to New York, he was the drummer of choice among the San Francisco Bay Area's most gifted creative musicians, playing on over 40 critically acclaimed recordings. In addition, Kavee was a musician, composer, musical director, actor and writer with the Tony award-winning San Francisco Mime Troupe for seven years - the only musical director in the group's 40 year history to win a dramalogue award. He was a percussionist, cellist and composer with the Club Foot Orchestra, who performed their score for G.W. Pabst's Pandora's Box at Lincoln Center. His collaboration with Asian-American Jazz pioneer Francis Wong has yielded 20 recordings and countless performances. As a founding member of the trail-blazing Omar Sosa Sextet, Kavee recorded four CD's and has toured the world. For his debut recording as a solo performer (on Eliasound records), "not only did Kavee make his skin and metallic percussion instruments sing by effecting a polytimbral/polyrhythmic approach, he further mixed up the program by doubling on cello. (Yes: drums and strings, one player, at the same time.")"- SF Weekly-SF Weekly (https://pirecordings.com/artist/Elliot+Humberto_Kavee)
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Label: Pi Recordings
Catalog ID: PIR-CD-58
Squidco Product Code: 20400
Format: 2 CDs
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold 3 Panels
Recorded at Systems Two Recording Studios in Brooklyn, New York, on December 8th and 9th, 2014 by Michael Marciano.
Henry Threadgill-alto saxophone, flute
Jose Davila-trombone, tuba
Elliot Humberto Kavee-drums
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1. In For A Penny, In For A Pound (Opening) 4:35
2. Ceroepic (For Drums And Percussion) 19:37
3. Dosepic (For Cello) 16:00
1. Off The Prompt Box (Exordium) 3:35
2. Tresepic (For Trombone And Tuba) 17:26
3. Unoepic (For Guitar) 17:57