Jazz Music

Henry Threadgill Very Very Circus - Paper Toilet

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During the 1990s, Threadgill pushed the musical boundaries even further with his ensemble Very Very Circus. In addition to Threadgill, the group's core consisted of two tubas, two electric guitars, a trombone or french horn, and drums. With this group he explored more complex and highly structured forms of composition, augmenting the group with everything from latin percussion to French horn to violin to accordion and an array of exotic instruments and vocalists.

Henry ThreadgillThreadgill composed and recorded with other unusual instrumentations, such as a flute quartet (Flute Force Four, a one-time project from 1990); and combinations of four cellos and four acoustic guitars (on Makin' a Move).

Viewing his music as "a reflection of social reality," Threadgill disclosed to Santoro that he is mystified by any revival of traditional jazz: "It’s funny to see a lot of musicians involved with music that’s older than they are … where they’re playing stuff that isn’t relevant today." The progressive jazz musician closed the decade of the 1980s championing invention with the release Rag, Bush, and All, a romp that John Ephland described in Down Beat as "everybody running. … All that running lands them in the sky."

Threadgill then opened the 1990s with a new album, Spirit of Nuff … Nuff, by his new group Very Very Circus. Planning a book and film documentary to highlight his 1991 U.S. tour, a performance of which was captured on the LP Live at Koncepts, Threadgill offered his mix of jazz, blues, gospel, Southern brass, and European classical music to more offbeat locales, including churches, hospitals, town squares, and zoos. "I want to give music to people in parts of this country I can’t ordinarily get to," the innovative musician divulged to Suzanne McElfresh in Down Beat. "When you bring music to them, you make our country smaller in a good way. You break down isolation; everyone gains."

Due to release an album entitled Too Much Sugar for a Dime in 1993, the well-respected Threadgill, having entered his fourth decade in the business, has played an integral role in the world of jazz music. Reviewing Very Very Circus’s live album in 1993, Musician correspondent Tom Moon praised Threadgill’s ensemble: "Very Very Circus, one of the most flexible and interactive small groups currently working, is heard melding brusque funk horn lines, jittery Latin rhythms and complex orchestral counterpoint into an invigorating compositional assault on the knotty Live at Koncepts … an album that defines this year’s true zeitgeist."

From the 1993 release Too Much Sugar For A Dime.

Tags: avant-garde

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