Air: Air Song


Air Song




Air Song (India Navigation 1057)

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

Composed by Henry Threadgill


Recorded: September 10, 1975


Rating: 99/100 (learn more)

This title cut from Air's 1975 India Navigation release is a free-time, harmonically ambiguous ballad featuring the group's auteur, Henry Threadgill, on flute. The track is an exercise in restraint for drummer Steve McCall, who—perhaps in deference to Threadgill's use of flute—mostly restricts his palette to slight metallic sounds and cymbal rolls. His contribution is no less effective for it. He's a resourceful colorist, and his interjections always serve the best purposes. As momentum builds, he's able to maintain intensity in an understated way. Bassist Fred Hopkins' arco playing is responsive and dynamically varied (not a description one might associate with much free jazz bass playing, then or now), and his pizzicato blends a percussive touch with a huge imagination. Hopkins' extreme dexterity and his ability to respond instantaneously to Threadgill is the music's most striking element. Threadgill himself plays wonderfully, with a big, reverberant sound that he's not afraid to alter in terms of pitch and timbre. His unison theme statements with Hopkins' arco bass are things of beauty, and his improvisation is a paradigm of spontaneous organization. This is a moving performance—an example of this preternaturally sensitive trio at its best.

Reviewer: Chris Kelsey

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