Episode #3

Henry Threadgill

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Monday, November 21, 2016

Henry Threadgill is the winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Music. Henry Threadgill is the winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Music. (John Rogers/Pi Recordings)

Henry Threadgill wants to know how to build the house. Whether it's Moby Dick or jazz composition, the 72-year-old jazz composer and multi-instrumentalist has spent his life figuring out what goes into building the greatest works of arts. At three years of age, he started teaching himself to play piano by mimicking the boogie-woogie on the radio. From there, he set to figuring out how to compose his own music.

Recently awarded the Pulitzer Prize, Threadgill talks with Helga about giving license to your imagination in order to create, the life energy that connects a performer to his creations, and pushing yourself to go beyond excellence to greatness.

“People have different names for the life force in them. But it’s energy. The only thing that science seems to be able to tell us about energy is you can’t destroy it. You can change it but you cannot destroy it. So wherever you house it, it’s only being housed until it has to change.” –Henry Threadgill

This conversation contains explicit language that some listeners may find offensive.

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Henry Threadgill

Hosted by:

Helga Davis

Produced by:

Julia Alsop and Curtis Macdonald


Alex Ambrose

Comments [4]

Sen from Great Britain

Thanks for the interview.

Threadgill is one of the living masters, definitely an original. I hope more people discover his work, I'm still learning from him. Nice memory of Butch Morris too.

Feb. 11 2017 07:14 PM
bobby from dc

Hello Ms. Davis,

I really like your work, and much appreciated your talk with Henry Threadgill and focus on Butch Morris. Butch! When his wonderful ‘Homeing’ first came out, I travelled to NY from my home of DC to speak with Butch about his work. A day visit (also in which Henry walked a the restaurant/bar where we were talking, and came in and joined us before he performed that evening at The Whitney) turned into a weekend stay at his home, and we remained friends until his passing. I travelled often to NY to hear his conductions, as I did when he was honored in passing. Our discussion turned into a Washington Post cover style section article entitled “The A-Z of Conduction” on the release of his Testament 10-CD box set of conductions. As a 30-plus year radio producer/host, I am honored to share his music. The first hour of a recent program playlist, which ended with
Butch's music, is below.

Again, much! thanks! Please know that much in your program resonated with me.

All the best, and I looking forward to more of your work.

Bobby Hill

WOWD-LP 94.3 on the FM Dial
Streaming at TakomaRadio.org
Producer/Host: Bobby Hill
Program: This! Music
Saturday, JULY 24, 16 10AM-1PM

“This! Music” is WOWD’s weekend offering of free, improvised and other creative forms of jazz-based music. “This! Music” is not just another jazz radio program. “This! Music’s” focus is only on original compositions. No standards. No standard repertoire.

SHOW 1st Hour

CD - Bill Cole & Joe Daley / Closing / Trayvon Martin Suite / Joda Music / 20151

CD - Dave Burrell & David Murray / Ballad for the Black Man / In Concert / Victo / 1991

CD - Jayne Cortez & Richard Davis / Remembrance / Celebrations & Solitudes (The Poetry of Jayne Cortez / Strata East / 1974

CD - Jayne Cortez & the Firespitters / In the Morning / Borders of Disorderly Time / Bola Press / Remembrance / Celebrations & Solitudes (The Poetry of Jayne Cortez / Strata East / 1974

CD - Jayne Cortez / In the Morning / Unsubmissive Blues / Bola Press / 1980

LP - Bill Cole Untempered Ensemble / You Know / Politics / BillCole / 2013

CD - Jayne Cortez & the Firespitters / In Simple Explanations / Find Your Own Voice / Bola Press / 2006

LP - Butch Morris / Lovers Existing on the Dunes / In Touch But Out of Reach / Kharma / 1978

Dec. 15 2016 01:28 PM
Cecilie Beck from New York

Helga, thank you so much for this interview.
I work for Henry. I've heard/read a bunch of interviews with him
and this one must have been the best. Your personality was just shining through the air and right into us listeners' ears.
I really enjoyed the personal approach and the way you guys spoke about Butch as well.


Nov. 23 2016 03:09 PM
Velibor Pedevski from New York

Thank you, thank you...., Helga.

Nov. 21 2016 11:06 PM

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