Talk to Henry Threadgill about the influences in his music, and he is drawn to talk about food. Or patterns of light in the sky. Or a building across the street from a rehearsal studio. Talking about an instrument's role in a composition, he is likely to mention not the rhythm of the drums, but the tuning, and a discussion about harmony becomes a question of how much white and red to add to the painting. He is not trying to be pretentious or profound. He is telling you how his mind works to create the things he hears.
Henry Threadgill was a founding member of the now legendary Association for the Advancement of Creative Music (AACM) of Chicago, but before and since he has been a founding member of the Henry Threadgill college of making music that matters. And to Threadgill, all music matters - Charlie Parker and street marching bands and Poulenc and Balinese dance. Now, this first big collection of his music provides an opportunity to hear how those ideas collided, entwined, and rainbowed across an almost uninterrupted span of nearly 20 years.