Henry Threadgill: Dirt, and More Dirt

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Henry Threadgill at Harlem Stage

1967, Fort Riley, Kansas. Henry Threadgill is 23 years old. Knowing he’s going to be drafted into the military, he joins the Army Concert Band, hoping to focus on his passion: writing music. As he surrounds himself with new ideas, he works his influences into the music that he's arranging. Then one day, the band plays one of his arrangements of a patriotic song for an inauguration of big-wigs, and from the calm of a quietly confused crowd comes a cry from a cardinal in attendance: “Blasphemy!”

One day later, he’s told to gather his things. Thirty days later, he’s on his way to Vietnam. Fifty years later, he wins the Pulitzer Prize for music composition.

This is only the beginning of the story of how the energy, hunger and curiosity of Henry Threadgill have influenced and changed the people around him. In spite of the failure and rejection he’s faced, Threadgill is perpetually driven toward new ideas, new challenges and new opportunities to pursue and grow stronger in his improvisational creative vision. His music is the product of the community he builds in the moment.

This is the story of Henry Threadgill, told by the people whose lives he has touched.


Heard a piece of music that you loved? Discover it here!

1:32—Samuel Ward: America the Beautiful | Listen 
1:47—Cecil Taylor: Air Above Mountains | Listen 
1:51—Igor Stravinsky: Rite of Spring | Listen 
1:57—Thelonious Monk: Solo Monk | Listen 
2:58—The Star-Spangled Banner, re-imagined by Meet the Composer
3:29—Henry Threadgill: Someplace | Buy 
3:47—Henry Threadgill: Higher Places | Buy 
5:24—Henry Threadgill: Little Pocket-Sized Demons | Buy 
6:00—Nico Muhly: Mothertongue: I. Archive | Listen 
6:20—Henry Threadgill: The Devil is on the Loose and Dancing with a Monkey | Listen 
6:58—Henry Threadgill: Try Some Ammonia | Listen 
9:00—Edward Ciuksza: Basia | Listen 
9:07—Demiran Cerimovic: Laca's Proud Cocek | Listen 
9:17—Sallie Martin Singers: Jesus | Listen 
9:28—Howlin' Wolf: Back Door Man | Listen 
10:20—Ernest Tubb & Red Foley: Hillbilly Fever | Listen 
10:33—Dmitri Shostakovich: Cello Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major, op. 107 | Listen 
10:39—Big Maybelle: Do Lord | Listen 
10:52—Meade Lux Lewis: Honky Tonk Train Blues | Listen 
12:17—Billy Strayhorn: Lush Life | Listen 
13:11—Bishop Samuel Kelsey & Others: Tell Me How Long Has The Train Been Gone | Listen 
14:19—Henry Threadgill: Where's Your Cup | Listen 
16:10—Muhal Richard Abrams: Wise in Time | Listen 
18:02—Muhal Richard Abrams: Marching With Honor | Listen 
18:09—George Lewis: Voyager Duo 4 | Listen 
18:16—Amina Claudine Myers: African Blues | Listen 
18:24—Roscoe Mitchell: A Game of Catch | Listen 
18:30—Wadada Leo Smith: Lake Michigan | Listen 
18:31—Henry Threadgill: Old Locks & Irregular Verbs | Listen 
28:03—Henry Threadgill: Old Locks & Irregular VerbsListen 
29:15—Henry Threadgill: Subject to Change: This | Buy 
34:08—Henry Threadgill: In for a Penny, Out for a Pound | Listen 
37:27—Henry Threadgill: Old Locks & Irregular VerbsListen