Saturday, December 30, 2006

Been listening through my remaining Air vinyl. Actually, Air pretty much disbanded, I think, right around the time I began the switch to CDs (1988) so all my Air recordings are on vinyl. For the record, these include:

Live Air (Black Saint--released in 1980, but recorded in 1976-77)
Montreux Suisse Air (Novus)
Air Lore (Arista/Novus)
Air Mail (Black Saint)
80 Below '82 (Antilles)
New Air (Black Saint)
Air Show No. 1 (Black Saint)

They hold up surprisingly well. Air Lore got a lot of press back then simply due to the "in the tradition" aspect of it, though this followed Braxton by a long shot. Part of me flinches at the notion that they felt obliged to do so (like Bailey's "Ballads" a few years back--it's fine but really unnecessary) but I have to say, they pulled it off really well. The sleeper is the Antilles release, one I always thought was unfairly overlooked. They do a trad number here also, Jelly Roll Morton's "Chicago Breakdown" and I'd take it over anything on "Air Lore". It's also the last album, if I'm not mistaken, with Steve McCall at the drums. With New Air, he was replaced by Pheeroan Ak Laff, an excellent player but a bit more the power drummer and not the colorist that McCall was. The final album feature one of the earliest appearances by Cassandra Wilson.

Never picked up their first album, Air Song, on India Navigation; I'd like to hear that one. Air Raid, too, for that matter. I count eleven releases in their discography and, with the possible exception of the Montreux Suisse Air album (and allowing I don't have access to the first two), not a weak one in the bunch.

Threadgill himself, of course, went on to a strong career as a leader though it's been several years since I've picked up anything of his, the last few I did not warranting further interest. But I'll get to him eventually....

I do miss Fred Hopkins, though.....

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