Chicago born HENRY THREADGILL is a composer, saxophonist and flautist who studied piano, flute, and composition at the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago. Peter Watrous of the New York Times described him as "perhaps the most important jazz composer of his generation." Henry came to prominence in the 1970s leading ensembles with unusual instrumentation, often incorporating a range of non-jazz genres. His music has been performed by many of his long-standing instrumental ensembles, including the trio Air, the seven-piece Sextet, Very Very Circus, the twenty-piece Society Situation Dance Band, X-75, Make a Move, Aggregation Orb, and his current group Zooid. Zooid has been the primary vehicle for his compositions throughout the 2000s. Henry has recorded many critically acclaimed albums as a leader of these ensembles and has received numerous commissions and awards. Howard Reich writes, "It would be difficult to overestimate Henry Threadgill's role in perpetually altering the meaning of jazz. . . .He has changed our underlying assumptions of what jazz can and should be." John Litweiler has said that Henry Threadgill “seems to be deliberately challenging the audience” and quotes Henry’s statement, “My lyricism and mastery come complete with thorns and spikes, and I promise to yank the props out from under you.” Pulitzer Prize-winning author and former disc jockey Studs Terkel, in his book, And They All Sang, about "forty of the greatest and most deeply human musical figures of our time," devotes a chapter to Henry Threadgill.
Pianist DAVID VIRELLES was born in Cuba to a singer-songwriter father and a symphony flautist mother. Starting with classical piano studies, David eventually studied at the University of Toronto, also recording and touring with Canadian saxophonist Jane Bunnett. After receiving a grant from the Canadian Council for the Arts to study with Henry Threadgill, David moved to New York and soon played with major jazz figures, including saxophonists Steve Coleman, Chris Potter, and Mark Turner. David was part of a trio in 2010, with bassist Ben Street and drummer Andrew Cyrille that played largely improvised music. In 2011, David played prepared piano, celeste and harmonium on Chris Potter's album, The Sirens; he made his ECM Records leader debut with the 2014 release Mbókò, described by a reviewer for The Guardian as an exploration of “ancient Afro-Cuban sacred and ritual musics through imaginative fusions with contemporary materials.”
This program is made possible in part by support from the Reva & David Logan Center for the Arts.