Henry Threadgill

Decades: 1980s 1990s


15 February 1944, Chicago, Illinois, USA. At college Threadgill shared a saxophone teacher with Anthony Braxton. In the early 60s he played with Roscoe Mitchell and Muhal Richard Abrams in the Experimental Band, the precursor of the AACM. He missed the AACM’s beginnings as he spent several years touring America with an Evangelist Camp, contributing saxophone to the gospel services. Two years in the army had him playing everything from marches to classical music to jazz. In the late 60s he returned to Chicago and his AACM colleagues, playing with Amina Claudine Myers and Abrams and also in the house band of a Chicago blues club. In 1971 he formed Air, a trio with Fred Hopkins (bass) and Steve McCall (percussion) though it was only after 1975 that the group became widely active. Adept on alto, tenor and baritone saxophones as well as clarinet, flute and bass flute, Threadgill’s playing was characterized by a pliancy and exceptional freshness.

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