Very Very Circus

Live at Koncepts

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A live recording from the Koncepts Cultural Gallery in 1991, this album captures a typically diverse and enjoyable set by Threadgill's Very Very Circus ensemble, the tuba and guitar-driven band he led for several years in the late '80s and early '90s. The pieces range from the fine, hard-driving opener, "Next," with the leader's searing, bitter alto, to the quasi-rockish "Snakes Don't Do Suicide," all martial beats and fusion-inspired guitar, to his lugubrious ballads, all steamy and off-kilter. Those listeners unfamiliar with Threadgill's approach may find both his composing style and his instrumentation a bit baffling. The former matches bluesy, though often acerbic melodies with stop-and-start rhythms that do groove, just not in the ways that one might anticipate. His conjunction of low horns with dual guitars and percussion certainly creates a unique overall sound, one that lends itself to the march-like cadences he favors but also leads to a lushness not often encountered elsewhere. It makes for a thick, throbbing matrix over which Threadgill can soar and, like his ensemble, his own alto and flute work sounds like no one else's, a sharp blues-tinged sound with heady romantic overtones. Live at Koncepts isn't at quite the level of the best of this band's studio efforts (Spirit of Nuff...Nuff may take the prize there), but is quite enjoyable on its own. Any Threadgill fan will want to hear it.