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Out there ... way out there

Live at Koncepts
Live at Koncepts
By Henry Threadgill and Very Very Circus

Taylor Made Records: 1993

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This review first appeared in the February 19, 1993 issue of the North County Blade-Citizen (now North County Times).

Like Sun Ra, Ornette Coleman and Lester Bowie before him, saxophonist Henry Threadgill is one of those far-out characters whom you either dig or you don't.

Out in the farthest reaches of the jazz pantheon, Threadgill and his current band, Very Very Circus, plan on-the-edge jazz that can best be described as challenging.

But first, to the challenging part: How many combos feature a saxophonist, two electric guitarists, two tubas, a French horn and drums? More structured than Coleman's early "free jazz," the music of Very Very Circus nonetheless is far more adventurous than most "progressive" bands.

There's plenty of room for the soloists to stretch out (six of the seven cuts here are over six minutes long), and there is also plenty of ensemble improvisation. And if, at first listen, this sounds like so much noise, it might also be pointed out that it sounds like life – which can be fairly noisy.