HENRY THREADGILL'S ZOOID Up Popped Two Lips (Pi) Rating: NNNN
HENRY THREADGILL & MAKE A MOVE Everybody's Mouth A Book (Pi) Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
With a Fela-like output that sees him record only a fraction of the tunes he writes, it was clear from the outset that a major-label release schedule would never really fit for saxophonist/composer Henry Threadgill. Now that he's an independent artist again, the AACM vet's first moved was to release two different recordings by two different groups. The acoustic sextet Zooid features Threadgill's woodwinds matched with guitar, oud, tuba, cello and percussion. One of the composer's most nimble recordings yet, it features a delicate, almost restrained approach to his trademark controlled improvisation. It's the complete opposite of Threadgill's raucous and electrified Make A Move quintet, though both recordings are instantly identifiable and rooted in the stuttered percussion of Cuban drummer/Jane Bunnett sideman Dafnis Prieto. Threadgill operates in his own language of jazz, constantly evolving, occasionally awkward and unlike anything else in the genre. Now that he's got the freedom to release as many records as he wants, watch out.