New Air Featuring Cassandra Wilson: Apricots On Their Wings


Apricots On Their Wings


New Air Featuring Cassandra Wilson


Air Show No. 1 (Black Saint BSR 0099)

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Henry Threadgill (alto sax), Cassandra Wilson (vocals), Fred Hopkins (bass),

Pheeroan akLaff (drums)


Composed by Henry Threadgill


Recorded: Milano, June 2 or 3, 1986


Rating: 91/100 (learn more)

At the beginning of her career - before her Blue Note albums made her a major jazz star - Cassandra Wilson was something of an avant-gardist. In the 1980s, she was one of the founding members of the M-Base collective. Besides performing and recording her own fairly "out" music, she also sang on record dates led by M-Base's central figure, saxophonist Steve Coleman. Wilson also formed an association with saxophonist/composer Henry Threadgill, for a time touring and recording with Threadgill's group, New Air. The album Air Show No. 1 yields the fruit of that brief collaboration.

Threadgill's "Apricots On Their Wings" is one of his characteristically oblique constructs. A minor-key tune with a march-like rhythmic feel and quasi-expressionist lyrics, the tune serves as a nice vehicle for Wilson. Her smoky, languorous voice doesn't so much sing the melody as take it by the hand and guide it through the nooks and crannies of an unhurried groove laid down by bassist Fred Hopkins and drummer Pheeroan akLaff. On alto, Threadgill contributes clever asides and one of his typically bawdy (and consummately intelligent) solos. The Threadgill/Wison musical partnership, short-lived as it was, yielded some interesting music. This is one of the better examples.

Reviewer: Chris Kelsey

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