Too Much Sugar for a Dime came up on the portable player today. What an outstanding CD! Henry Threadgill has such a great sensibility for arranging. He paints such outlandish textures with such thick and unusual instrumentations.
Originally released in 1993 (and sadly out of print soon after) this one keeps impressing me a little deeper each time I hear it. The opening track - "Little Pocket Size Demons" is the main attraction for me. It hits you over the head with this overwhelmingly attractive and extremely busy texture. This thick splash of color unfolds with such a great harmonic sequence as free flowing improvisations (particularly Brandon Ross's electric guitar) topple over a rippling stream of intense orchestration. And for all the "noise" and activity it holds a groove that sticks in the mind for a long time.
"Little Pocket Size Demons" leaves such a mark that it's easy to miss the tracks that follow under its considerable shadow. The rest of this disc cools from the initial burning of that thick opening track. (I don't see how one could sustain such a busy texture through an entire set.) I'd actually recommend a forced intermission to clear the sonic pallet for the material that follows. There's some intensely creative, well written material throughout this disc. The vocals for "In Touch" have an Eastern European feel to my ears and I like the melodic contours and sustained tones even if the actual lyrics didn't do much for me. And "Better Wrapped/Better Unrapped" is another groove-heavy and infectious work that takes a turn toward Africa with the vocals and percussion. Scour those used bins and snap this one up if you don't already have it. And give it a spin if it's been awhile. This one is even better than I'd remembered it.