In for a Penny, In for a Pound is the latest installment in saxophonist/ flutist/composer Henry Threadgills ongoing exploration of his singular system for integrating composition with group improvisation. The music for his band Zooid his main music-making vehicle for the past fourteen years and the longest running band of his illustrious forty plus-year career is no less than his attempt to completely deconstruct standard jazz form, steering the improvisatory language towards an entirely new system based on preconceived series of intervals. His compositions create a polyphonic platform that encourages each musician to improvise with an ear for counterpoint and, in the process, creating striking new harmonies.
Paramount among independent modern jazz record labels, Black Saint was founded in Italy back in 1975 and grew to encompass more than 190 albums, while its comparatively mainstream sister enterprise, Soul Note, emerged in 1979 and eventually racked up a phenomenal index of more than 350 releases. After purchasing both gold mines, CAM Jazz began reissuing the cream of these catalogs in affordable box sets, setting the stage for a full-scale reassessment of modern creative music. The Henry Threadgill edition contains no less than seven remastered albums, packaged like little LPs in perfectly reproduced jackets, each with the original print scaled down in miniature but still legible with the aid of a magnifying lens.
Tenor sax and bass clarinet player's excellent series of Octet efforts for Black Saint in the 80s – a run of brilliant albums with lineups featuring Henry Threadgill, Olu Dara, Butch Morris, George Lewis, Anthony Davis, Bobby Bradford, Hugh Ragin, James Spaulding and other great players – 5 albums in a CD box set in the Complete Remastered Recordings On Black Saint & Soul Note series! It includes the Ming album from 1980, Home from '82, Murray's Steps (released in '83), New Life from '87 and Hope Scope from '91 – each in a cardboard sleeve with the original album art and each remastered. (All albums come in cardboard sleeve replicas of the original album covers!)
Since he released the completely solo For Alto in 1968, the accepted image of Anthony Braxton has been that he is more a theoretician and art music composer than a jazz musician. Therefore, it might seem strange that Mosaic Records is giving his Complete Arista Recordings one of their fabled box set treatments. But Braxton is both – and much more. This set – as well as the original Arista recordings – were produced by Michael Cuscuna, Mosaic/Blue Note label head. The sheer scope of these recordings is staggering. What we get in this amazingly detailed collection is the weightiest argument yet for Braxton's range and depth of field as a musical thinker and his role as a pillar of modern jazz.