After trailblazing stints with the avant-garde jazz trio Air in the '70s and his seven-piece sextet in the '80s, Henry Threadgill changes direction once again with a two tuba, two guitar, trombone, and drums outfit he calls Very Very Circus. Threadgill's layered, idiosyncratic compositions still abound, but as one would expect from a front line like this, the sound is darker and more dense than on prior releases. The new approach is especially evident in the thick mix of reverb-riddled guitar notes, rumbling tuba phrases, and march rhythms heard on numbers like "Drivin' You Slow and Crazy," "Bee Dee Aff," and "Unrealistic Love." Threadgill does lighten the tone, though, by including the Calypso-inspired number "Hope a Hope A" and intricately buoyant themes like "Exacto" and "In the Ring." Standout contributions include Masujaa's mercurial guitar solo on "Unrealistic Love," Threadgill's haunting flute work on "First Church of This," and drummer Gene Lake's supple and tight rhythmic support throughout. Another excellent title from one of jazz's most progressive and original artists.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Cook