Henry Threadgill Sextett

Subject to Change

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The third album released by Threadgill's seven-member Sextett (!) on the fine About Time label, Subject to Change continued to display the leader's extraordinary compositional gifts in a series of pieces ranging from the episodic to the melancholy to the purely grooving. His bands always had a deep and infectious capacity for strutting and this quality is amply in evidence on pieces like "Homeostasis," as the group swaggers with all the aplomb of a classic New Orleans marching band. "Higher Places" stands firmly in the canon of brooding, quasi-dirges that have always been a special strength of Threadgill, a gorgeous, steamy theme redolent of hot southern evenings. The title track is a burner, featuring striking work from cellist Diedre Murray and evolving into a series of bluesy variations worthy of Mingus. Amina Claudine Myers is added on vocals for the last number, prefiguring Threadgill's increasing interest in singers in upcoming years, notably Cassandra Wilson, who provided the lyrics for this piece. Subject to Change is very much of a piece with other Sextett albums of the '80s: meaty, imaginative, solidly and even inspiringly played, and rich in evocations of past musics while looking straight into the future. Collect 'em all.

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