Picks and Pans Review: Carry the Day

updated 02/20/1995 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/20/1995 AT 01:00 AM EST

Henry Threadgill

Henry Threadgill's music has always been an anomaly, but over the years, the eclectic composer-saxophonist has produced some beautiful and wildly original music. This is true once again with Carry the Day, Threadgill's first release on a major label.

With his group Very Very Circus Plus—which includes two tubas, two guitars, two percussionists, two vocalists, an accordion, a violin, drums, a French horn and a pipa (a dreamy Chinese string instrument)—the crafty Threadgill picks up where he left off with his last two works, the piquant, listener-friendly Song out of My Trees and Too Much Sugar for a Dime. His amalgam of jazz, classical and world music could reek of pretension, but Threadgill has a sense of humor that always comes through in his compositions—the title track, an ebullient Latin number, with a repeated Spanish lyric, is a perfect example. His distant, plaintive alto saxophone on "Between Orchids, Lillies, Blind Eyes, and Cricket" is one of the highlights, and the slow, penetrating accordion, accompanied with the pipa, has never sounded better than on the haunting "Hyla Crucifer...Silence Of." The many cryptic lyrics, such as "Send all the mirrors to the zoo," seem somewhat unnecessary, and Threadgill does have a dissonant moment or two. Nonetheless, this is an impressive album by an innovative, important musician who takes chances but never loses his integrity—or his wit. (Columbia)

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