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April 12, 1991 - Image 8

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1991-04-12

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Page 8 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, April 12, 1991
Threadgill plays avant-rags

by Peter Shapiro
It's not an exaggeration to say that
no one plays more strands of the
African-American musical ex-
perience with more expertise and
more individual style than Henry
Threadgill. From the off-kilter
avant-rags on Air Lore and Rag,
Bush and All to the mythic/primal
experimentation of Air Time to the
straight funk of Sly and Robbie's
Rhythm Killers, Threadgill's in-
strumental work is a stunning indi-
vidual interpretation of the blues
continuum.
Threadgill began his career in
Chicago in the late '60s/early '70s
among the first generation of artists
associated with the AACM
(Association for the Advancement
of Creative Musicians), a collective
organized to provide musicians with
an economic foundation outside of
the normal production/gigging
channels. All of the musicians that
grew out of the AACM (Art
Ensemble of Chicago, Muhal

Richard Abrams, Anthony Braxton)
play with the same angular, haunt-
ing, minimalist primitivism that
characterizes Threadgill's playing.
After the collapse of his first
group, Abrams' legendary Exper-
imental Band, Threadgill joined
forces with bassist Fred Hopkins
and drummer Steve McCall to form
Air. Free jazz's answer to the power
trio played stark and challenging
music with Threadgill's alto, tenor,
flute and hubkaphone leading the
jagged rhythmic figures of the
battery through African, Kabuki,
Eastern and African-American
"folk" musics.
After Air fizzled out in the
early '80s, Threadgill formed a
"sextet," really a seven piece band,
with Hopkins staying on as bassist.
With two omnipresent members of
the harmolodic jazz avant garde on
hand, trumpet player Olu Dara and
drummer Pheeroan Aklaff,
Threadgill's reworkings of ragtime
standards and his own compositions

got progressively funkier without
losing any of the elemental textures
that characterize his sound.
Threadgill's new ensemble, the
Very Very Circus, is even more
firmly rooted in the musical tradi-
tions of the diaspora than any of his
previous groups. With a trombonist,
two guitarists, a drummer and two
tuba players, the Very Very Circus'
brand of jazz hearkens back to the
era of New Orleans funeral marches
and pre-Ellington big band. The
rhythms sputter and chug along, as
the tubas are used only to suggest
bass lines and funk grooves, while
Threadgill's horn parts are rarely
more than spasmodic fragments of a
melodic idea, creating music that
sounds like shards of the Dirty
Dozen Brass Band floating from
their waste up in a cubist landscape.
HENRY THREADGILL AND VERY
VERY CIRCUS play tomorrow night
at the Ark at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m..
Tickets are $12.50, $10 for students
with ID (n.e.s.c.) at TicketMaster.

don your black tights and join the
ranks of those people who spend en-
tire days at Cafe Depresso Royale.
Alan Lommasson, who received an
MFA degree in dance from the
University, is directing the Dance
Gallery (one of its members, Lisa
Johnson, is pictured at left) in their
performance this weekend, entitled
Personal Geography. Lommasson
treats his audiences to a personal
glimpse of his own feelings about
dance and life. Included will be "a
solo for two," which stems from
the grueling experience of ten
consecutive mornings of pancake
breakfasts in Ames, Iowa. You can
still catch the show tonight and
tomorrow night at 8 in the
University Dance Building, Studio
A. Tickets are $10, $8 for students
and seniors.
The Women's Glee Club has in-
troduced a novel twist to
University choral presentations: a
theme! The women's chorus will
memorialize the Holocaust with
pieces such as Hardyk's I Never Saw

Here's a success story for all of
you artsy types who are yearning to

STREET

Main Source
Breaking Atoms
Wildpitch
Imagine the lyrical and musical
nonconformity of De La Soul minus
that trio's deliberate weirdness,
with all the density of Eric B. and

Rakim's Paid In Full album under-
lying the similarly innovative rap-
ping. Main Source achieves the im-
provisational style of rival produc-
tion crews without biting their
style, instead tapping the still-
bulging vein of '70s funk - remi-

niscent of Isley Brothers, Isaac
Hayes and the Bar-Kays, with a
touch of King Curtis. Moreover,
with the combined turntable efforts
of Sir Scratch and K-Cut coupled
with musical performances deriva-
tive of that decade, Main Source
have restructured a hybrid of rap and
R & B - sloppy, fragmented and
funky.
Main Source must deal with
being intelligent, multifaceted
Black men in a genre where dogma is
highly valued and their particular
identity is only vaguely embraced
by Native Tongues fans. Their coun-
terattack on white supremacy is
most direct in "Just A Friendly
Game Of Baseball," an analogy to
See RECORDS, Page 9
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Continued from page 5
neously fulfilling the psycholo-
gists' desire to understand him.
Unfortunately, Street is contin-
ually nabbed by the authorities for
his impersonations - and always
before he begins making money. The
fun exists in the charade, which is
not solely fooling people, as Street

seems to derive Enjoyment from
playing the part. But the fatalistic
overtone of his impending discovery
lends a suspense to the film, a ten-
sion between his unquestionable su-
periority and the fact that he cannot
continue his course of behavior.
However, the film tends to lose this
suspense toward the middle, some-
what diluting the final irony.

Another Butterfly. Accompanied by
oboe, the song-cycle will bring to
life poems written by children dur-
ing their stay in Terezin, a
Czechoslovakian concentration@
camp. The tragic theme and poignant
music is so beautiful that one mem-
ber said, "I'm moved every time we
rehearse it." On a lighter note, the
Glee Club will also perform folk-
songs, Michigan tunes and selec-
tions from The Wiz. The perfor-
mance is tonight at 8 in Rackham
Lecture Hall. Tickets are $5 and $3.
The Uptown String Quartet,0
featuring someone who is related to
Max Roach, will perform this
Sunday at Rackham Auditorium.
Sponsored by the Afro-American
Music Collection of the School of
Music, the concert promises to
bring tears to jazz lovers' eyes.
Tickets are $7, $10, $15, or if you
prefer, $75/ person and $100/couple.
Soul Stretch, a profile of one
man's Black Experience in White
See WHO, Page9
The overall concept of Cha-
meleon Street is brilliant, however.
The film is a patchwork of styles
that brims with wit, and even when
the narrative lags, Harris - as actor
and director - remains original and
compelling.
CHAMELEON STREET (making its
Ann Arbor debut) opens tonight at
Showcase.
plays better tennis, he's able to
marry the woman he loves and his
whorish wife rests eight feet under.
Bruno violates the very codes we
live by and we love him for it,
whether he is murdering without
guilt or popping a kid's balloon.
Though eerie, he's far more amusing
than Guy could ever be. Guy's re-
fusal to kill Bruno's disciplinarian
father is nothing less than disap-
pointing. Bruno engenders sympathy
as well as suspicion, and Walker
plays him perfectly.
Somehow, Strangers on a Train
slipped by the Hitchcock canon: it's
never really mentioned in the same
breath as the director's mainstays.
But Hitchcock's never been more
subtle or devious. He slyly juxta-
poses Guy's tennis match and
Bruno's desperate attempt to re-
trieve the lighter; in the film's
most (in)famous scene, the uniform
heads of a tennis crowd swivel back
and forth with the ball while one
head - Bruno's - remains per-
fectly still and fixed on Guy. This is
one of the Hitchcock's most enjoy-
able films, as well as one that is
most likely to be shown in a film
class.
Strangers on a Train will be
shown tomorrow at 9:30 in MLB 4.
- Gregg Flaxnan

CAMPUS

Continued from page 5
Train, avoids the hokey Freudian
subtexts that crept into some of the
master's other works. The director's
tight narrative is in evidence, but
evil (or is it?) speaks for itself
rather than fobbing itself off as
convoluted psychosis.
The plot revolves around what
Guy Haines (Farley Granger), an
unhappily married tennis pro, thinks
to be a concession - or, worse yet, a
joke. Guy desperately wants to
marry Ann Morton (Ruth Roman),
but his wife Miriam (Laura Elliot)
won't give him a divorce. On a train,
Guy meets stranger Bruno Anthony
(Robert Walker), who offers to kill
Miriam if Guy will reciprocate by

killing Bruno's wealthy father. Guy
agrees for no other reason than to
brush off the bizarre Bruno.
But Bruno actually does it. In a
classic scene, Hitchcock's camera
shoots Bruno strangling Miriam
through the victim's fallen glasses.
But Guy - the morality man -
isn't about to off Bruno's father in
return, so Bruno connives to frame
Miriam's murder on Guy by plant-
ing his cigarette lighter at the scene
of the crime.
Hitchcock never contents him-
self with mere intrigue consistently
skewing the picture. The demented,
inane Bruno (at one point he reveals
a sketchy plan to blow up the White
House) becomes the film's hero.
Miriam's death is a blessing: Guy

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