Montreux Suisse-Air: Live at Montreux 1978 (Arista Novus AN 3008)
Composed by Henry Threadgill.
Recorded: Montreux Jazz Festival, July 22, 1978
Rating: 94/100 (learn more)
Not many bands in the history of jazz were more adept than Air at combining the open spaces of free playing with gutbucket expressionism. Much of that owed to Henry Threadgill, of course, whose gritty, bluesy R&B alto and tenor sounds were used to convey remarkably abstract thoughts. Not to be overlooked, however, are bassist Fred Hopkins and drummer Steve McCall, one the truly great rhythm sections, who provide the backbone of this track. Hopkins's expansive sense of swing works in tandem with McCall's; the pair creates a constantly ebbing-and-flowing, alternately swaggering and vulnerable ambience. Their work is fraught with drama, imbued with passion. Threadgill's composition is slight but essential, providing the performance an almost perceivable (mainly rhythmic) hinge on which it swings to great effect.
Reviewer: Chris Kelsey