Threadgill, Henry (Luther)

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Threadgill, Henry (Luther)

Threadgill, Henry (Luther), talented avant- garde jazz alto saxophonist, flutist, composer; b. Chicago, Feb. 15, 1944. He studied at the American Cons, of Music, Governor’s State Univ; played with marching bands, theatre bands, and gospel and blues bands; and was in the army stationed in Kans. He played with Eugene Hunter, Richard Davis, and the Phil Cohran Heritage Ensemble. In 1963, he became active in education as a music instructor and choir director. He joined Muhal Richard Abrams’s sextet in the early 1960s and was a founding member of the AACM. In the early 1970s, along with Fred Hopkins and Steve McCall, he founded the trio Air; the trio traveled extensively and recorded in Venezuela and Trinidad. Air moved to N.Y. in 1975 and continued until McCall left in 1983; the group then continued as New Air from 1983 to 1986. Threadgill then formed his Sextet (six pieces plus himself). His groups often included Deidre Murray on cello, Frank Lacy on trombone, Rasul Sadik on trumpet, Fred Hopkins on bass, Pheeron akLaff, and Reggie Nicholson on drums. Hopkins and akLaff also play in New Air; Threadgill and they also played in Oliver Lake’s combo as well. In the early 1990s, Threadgill took his Very Very Circus band on a bus and toured across the country, stopping in small towns and performing free sets of music in town squares and parks. In the later 1990s, his band, now called Make a Move, included Brandon Ross on electric and classical guitars, Tony Cedras on accordion and harmonium, Stomu Takeishi on five-string fretless bass, and new member Toby Williams on drums. Around this time he also assembled a 21-piece “dance band” for some performances in Europe.

An eccentric personality, Threadgill has no telephone, and communicates with the outside world through faxes he sends from a local copy center. He maintains a residence in N.Y., but around 1994 began living in India for half of the year with his wife and young child.


X-75, Vol. 1 (1979); When Was That? (1982); You Know the Number (1986); Live at Koncepts (1991); Song out of My Trees (1993); Too Much Sugar for a Dime (1993); Carry The Day (1994); Makin’ a Move (1995); Where’s Your Cup? (1997); Flute Force Four (with co-leader James Newton; 1990). Air: Air (1971); Air Song (1975); Air Raid (1976); Live Air (1976); Air Time (1977); Live at Montreux 1978 (1978); Open Air Suite (1978); Air Lore (1979); Air Mail (1980); 80 Degrees Below ’81 (1982); New Air: Live at the Montreux I (1983); Air Show No. 1 (1986).

—Lewis Porter