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Threadgill and Morris to Play Harlem

Avant-garde jazz is typically a downtown thing in NYC, but two of its most respected practitioners will be taking their compositions across 110th Street to Harlem’s Aaron Davis Hall on Oct. 26 and 27. At the concerts, Henry Threadgill (pictured left) will conduct the U.S. premiere of his new work “On Walcott,” while Lawrence “Butch” Morris will lead the 119th work in his series of Conductions. Predicting the exact directions these artists will take is a fool’s enterprise, but it is safe to say that the envelope will be pushed.

The title of Threadgill’s new work refers to Nobel Prize-winner Derek Walcott, and it uses his texts (as read by poet and performance artist Carl Hancock Rux) as the basis for a fully theatrical work. A small orchestra, led by Threadgill, handles musical duties; Judith Sanchez did the accompanying choreography, while Jules Allen designed the visuals. “I’ve long been interested in a theater format that’s more manageable, relevant and direct,” says Threadgill. “This approach seems to have the room and possibilities for variety and exploration – [and] comfortable room for improvisation.”

Morris’ Conductions, meanwhile, share some attributes with Threadgill’s piece: both are written for orchestra, and both contain room for improvisation. Morris’ works, however, are better described as composer-directed improvisations than anything else. With simple hand gestures, Morris can alter harmony, rhythm, phrasing or anything else he wishes to, inspiring the musicians he works with, in his words, “not only to compose, arrange and construct, but also to evolve their own vision, model and tradition, placing idea against idea.”

The Aaron Davis Hall is located at West 135th Street and Convent Avenue in New York City. For more information or to order tickets, call (212) 650-7100. Tickets can also be purchased via Ticketmaster at (212) 307-4141.

Originally Published