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A look inside The Jazz Gallery

Photo by John Rogers, courtesy of the artist.

This weekend, The Jazz Gallery is thrilled to turn over the stage to Henry Threadgill and his long-running ensemble Zooid. Since the band’s debut in 2001, Zooid has been Threadgill’s playground and laboratory, as he has developed a unique and rigorous system for group improvisation. In an interview with Jazz Speaks, Zooid’s guitarist Liberty Ellman describes some of the elements of Threadgill’s process:

Everything Henry does comes from the perspective of being a composer and a player. Music for him isn’t just a vehicle for soloing; it includes a lot regarding what he hopes to achieve in terms of ensemble sound. I always admire how varied and creative his forms are. For example, we don’t do traditional ‘ABA’ forms; there could be six or seven different sections. After he writes everything, he pretty much considers it modular, so when we rehearse, we might just play one or two sections at a time, and then reorganize the piece depending on what happens during the rehearsal. We might change who solos on what section, move melodies around, or rebuild structures as we go.

This work reached an apotheosis on Zooid’s 2015 album, In for a Penny, In for a Pound (Pi Recordings), an 80-minute epic that was awarded the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Music. Since then, Threadgill’s output has focused more on works for larger ensembles, including Ensemble Double Up, 14 or 15 Kestra: Agg, and a commission from the Cleveland Museum of Art for Zooid and chamber ensemble.

Zooid’s special run of performances at The Jazz Gallery is sure to showcase Threadgill’s ever-deepening musical system along with the musicians who know it best.

Henry Threadgill’s Zooid plays The Jazz Gallery fromThursday, December 12 through Saturday, December 14, 2019. The group features Mr. Threadgill on saxophone & flute, Liberty Ellman on guitar, Christopher Hoffman on cello, Jose Davila on tuba & trombone, and Elliot Humberto Kavee on drums & percussion. Sets are at 7:30 and 9:30 P.M. each night. $35 general admission ($20 for members), $45 reserved table seating ($30 for members) for each set. Purchase tickets here.