Air: Dance of the Beast


Dance of the Beast




Air Song (India Navigation 1057)

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

Composed by Henry Threadgill


Recorded: September 10, 1975


Rating: 98/100 (learn more)

"Dance of the Beast" begins with bassist Fred Hopkins laying down a vamp in a loose, swinging triple meter. Hopkins holds down the pulse while drummer Steve McCall essentially solos in and out of time. The pair gains momentum, leading to Henry Threadgill's entrance on alto sax. Threadgill enters improvising approximately three minutes in—no theme, just skittering, squalling free alto over the churning McCall and steadfast Hopkins. Hopkins uses the occasion of Threadgill's entrance as an excuse to gradually surrender time-keeping responsibilities. The three men engage in furious collective improvisation. Threadgill's solo ends, and Hopkins takes center stage with a hyperactive solo full of multi-stops, pedals, and not so illusive contrary motion. Threadgill returns in full-flight, slashing and burning over violent, inconstant percussion and newly focused bass (Hopkins at this point having reclaimed his organizational responsibilities) as they take the track to its conclusion. An aptly titled work, "Dance of the Beast" is an excellent example of the kind of visceral musical blow Air could strike when it so chose.

Reviewer: Chris Kelsey

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