Air: Let's All Go Down To The Footwash


Let's All Go Down To The Footwash




Montreux Suisse-Air: Live at Montreux 1978 (Arista Novus AN 3008)


Henry Threadgill (alto sax), Fred Hopkins (bass), Steve McCall (drums).

Composed by Henry Threadgill


Recorded: Montreux Jazz Festival, July 22, 1978


Rating: 86/100 (learn more)

Ah, the 1970s … that golden epoch when major record labels actually saw fit to record cutting-edge jazz. Actually, it was considerably less than an epoch—more like the blink of an eye. Still, a few bands benefited, one them being Air, the redoubtable trio composed of saxophonist/hubkaphonist Henry Threadgill, bassist Fred Hopkins and drummer Steve McCall. This track comes from one of a pair of late '70s releases the group did for Novus. Recorded live at the Montreux Festival, "Footwash" is an 11-minute performance emphasizing the group's gift for collective free improvisation. The soulful Threadgill sounds like the kind of saxophonist who would walk the bar at some nightclub co-managed by Albert Ayler and Anton Webern. Hopkins's arco bass provides a texturally capricious foil for Threadgill, while McCall ingeniously fills in the rhythmic spaces and swings some sharp elbows. The composition is credited to Threadgill, but it's spare to the point of being nonexistent. The music is largely—perhaps totally—improvised. As a result, it lacks the defining character provided by Threadgill's more considered compositions. Still, while this bracing spasm of intellect and feeling isn’t the best of Air, it's pretty darn good.

Reviewer: Chris Kelsey

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  • 1 samit // Apr 23, 2009 at 08:26 PM
    Air was a co-op unit with strong individuals. Threadgill would go on to greater renown as a master composer arranger in 80's/90's but its great to hear Hopkins/Mccall team , all three collectively improvise and interact like this, from the 1970's a forgotten time in acoustic jazz, a classic sax-bass-drums trio worth rediscovering