Pulitzer Prize Winner Henry Threadgill Presents Multimedia Masterwork Inspired by Late Jazz Drummer Milford Graves, Dedicated to the Memory of Famed Cultural Critic Greg Tate

Two Night Presentation and Performance from ‘Henry Threadgill and Party Of’ To Run May 20 & 21 at Roulette in Brooklyn, New York

Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, saxophonist and flutist Henry Threadgill will present a multimedia masterwork inspired by the late jazz drummer Milford Graves on May 20 & 21 at Roulette in Brooklyn, New York. This multimedia presentation, which incorporates film, visual art, voice looping, orchestral music and even images from a heart rate monitor, will be divided into two performances beginning with “One” on Friday, May 20, followed by “The Other One” on Saturday, May 21. These performances are dedicated to the memory of cultural critic Greg Tate.

Honoring two men who sat before him in the index of cultural influencers, Threadgill has produced a hybrid exhibition that incorporates an 11-piece musical ensemble with juxtaposed, curated visual elements. After the passing of Tate and Graves last year, Threadgill sourced inspiration from the ingenious footprints each contributed to the humanities. 

Threadgill’s hybrid production is split into three sections, beginning with a 17-minute film prelude he shot in 2017. The second section, “Of Valence,” is dedicated to and inspired by Milford Graves. A steadfast drummer, percussionist, researcher and inventor, Graves was fascinated by heartbeat as a source of rhythm and used transducers and other electronic software to study his own heart vibrations closely. Threadgill wrote the compositions on “Of Valence” through a similar, avant-garde method, using true heart rate images from his recent visit to the cardiologist as a basis for the tempo. 

“It’s like one runner taking off faster than the next runner, you just don’t know the distances they’re going to reach down the road,” Threadgill states, explaining how an element of the unknown still pervades the music and will impact each of its live performances.

Conceptually, Threadgill’s presentation takes clear inspiration from the career of the late Greg Tate, a long-time cultural critic, author, musician and producer. A “pre-eminent writer on Black Music and art,” as described by The New York Times, Tate was known for his endorsement of expressionism. Captivated by the mass exodus and abandoned streets of New York City in the heat of 2020’s Coronavirus, Threadgill turned to a subjective creative process to articulate his feelings. He captured pictures of all the empty space and wrote down an amalgam of prose and poetry. He later commissioned the help of his daughter, a visual artist, who synthesized his written thoughts onto canvas. A sequence of these works will be a part of Threadgill’s two shows at Roulette.

He has rallied an all-star lineup for the occasion, forming “Henry Threadgill and Party Of” which includes Darius Jones on alto saxophone, Noah Becker on alto saxophone and clarinet, Peyton Pleninger on tenor saxophone, Craig Weinrib on drums, Sara Caswell on violin, Stephanie Griffin on viola, Marika Hughes and Christopher Hoffman on cello, Jose Davila on tub, David Virelles on piano and Sara Schoenbeck and Adam Cordero on bassoon.

Henry Threadgill: One and Henry Threadgill: The Other One, written in memory of Milford Graves and dedicated to Greg Tate, will run at Roulette on May 20 and May 21. For more information on these upcoming shows, visit roulette.org.

More About Henry Threadgill

Hailed by the New York Times as “perhaps the most important jazz composer of his generation,” Henry Threadgill has been celebrated for over forty years as one of the most original, forward-thinking composers and multi-instrumentalists in American music. His four-movement work, In for a Penny, In for a Pound, received the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2016, one of only three jazz compositions to ever be so honored. Henry Threadgill is the only Vietnam veteran to ever be awarded a Pulitzer in music.

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