I feel I will literally die if I don’t go forward: composer/saxophonist Henry Threadgill

A different sort of Q and A, BOMB publishes novelist Frederic Turan’s dialogue with saxophonist/flutist Henry Threadgill that probes the cerebral concept within his Pulitzer Prize-winning music. Known for his constantly changing ensembles beginning with Air in the 1970s with drummer Steve McCall and bassist Fred Hopkins to the most recent Zooid with tubaist Jose Davila and guitarist Liberty Ellman among others, Threadgill’s music has constantly evolved since he first began playing as a Chicago teenager. Drawn to the saxophone after hearing the likes of Gene Ammons and the flute from masters like Sam Most, he says he was also influenced by Blues, Serbian, Polish and even Hillbilly Music. After army service in Vietnam that exposed him to the Montagnard people’s different ideas, he attended music schools in Chicago where he took almost every course available. Wise teachers taught him that progress comes through mistakes and to expand his interests beyond music. Over the years he has been involved in many multi-media presentations and flatly states that : “I don’t get a lot of my information from music anymore. It comes from dance. It comes from theater. It comes from film. It comes from literature. It comes from painting. It comes from photography. I only listen to music for enjoyment.” In fact, his most recent project will involve composed and improvised music based on the participating musicians’ heart beats.