Written with Brent Hayes Edwards, a professor at Columbia, Easily Slip into Another World - Henry Threadgill's autobiography - is to be published in May by Knopf. The publisher's blurb is below:
An autobiography of one of the towering figures of contemporary American music and a powerful meditation on history, race, capitalism, and art.
Henry Threadgill has had a singular life in music. At 79, the saxophonist, flautist, and celebrated composer is one of only seven Black composers to have won a Pulitzer Prize. The others are George Walker, Wynton Marsalis, Ornette Coleman, Kendrick Lamar, Anthony Davis, and Tania León. In Easily Slip into Another World, Threadgill recalls his childhood and upbringing in Chicago, his family life and education, and his brilliant career in music.
Here are riveting recollections of the music scene in Chicago in the early 1960s, when Threadgill developed his craft the among friends and schoolmates who would go on to form the core of the highly influential Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM); the year and a half he spent touring with an evangelical preacher in the mid-1960s; his military service in Vietnam—a riveting tale in itself, but also representative of an under-recognized aspect of jazz history, given the number of musicians in Threadgill’s generation who served in the armed forces; his extended travels to the Netherlands, Venezuela, Trinidad, Sicily, and Goa; the volatile downtown scene in New York City in the 1970s and 1980s; his impressions of the recording industry, as a composer who has worked with a wide range of record companies from small independents (Black Saint, Pi Recordings) to large corporations (Arista/Novus, Columbia); his work as a sideman with an astonishing range of musicians, from AACM stalwarts (Muhal Richard Abrams, Roscoe Mitchell, Wadada Leo Smith, and Leroy Jenkins), to Chicago bluesmen (“Left Hand” Frank Craig), to downtown luminaries (David Murray, Billy Bang, and Kip Hanrahan), to world music innovators (Vytas Brenner, Rolando Briceño, Sly & Robbie, and Mario Bauzá); his perspectives on music education and the history of Black music in the United States; and, of course, his work with the various ensembles he has directed over the past five decades.