Henry Threadgill

Carry the Day

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It seems that every five years or so Columbia signs a token avant-garde musician. Arthur Blythe and Tim Berne emerged from their experiences as major-label artists relatively unscathed and, on evidence of Henry Threagill's somewhat forbidding Columbia debut, it would not be surprising if the altoist survived his stint with his priorities straight. There is certainly nothing commercial or watered down about this recording. The music ranges from "Come Carry the Day" (which builds from a group chart to some very dense ensembles) and Threadgill's Dolphy-ish alto on "Between Orchids" to a couple of very odd vocals and the intense group improv "Jenkins Boys." The group sound (with its accordions, tubas and Mark Taylor's French horn) is attractive in its own way even if the originals do little more than set mysterious moods. This unique music takes several listens to absorb, and even then it still might be somewhat incomprehensible. At 37 minutes, it is all over too soon.

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