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19 April 2009

Air - 'Open Air Suit' (Novus)

Source: Ross, 22 August 2002.

Another group of AACM-related records that fall into the 'A's, Air is Henry Threadgill, Fred Hopkins and Steve McCall, a stripped down trio (and not the French artistes that found their fame 20 years later). Hiding behind the erotic animal stylings of the front cover, Air attempt a Cobra-style game piece here, something based around a deck of playing cards. Four of the five pieces that emerged are presented here; gotta love the wordplay between 'suit' and 'suite' ... I'm not so clear on the rules but it's a surprising listen cause McCall is doing his best Drumbo impersonation. Maybe this is the 'open' feeling hinted at in the title and liner notes- lots of space, where Threadgill and Hopkins stab at each other and dabble in melodic themes. Henry switches to the flute for a bit at the end; it's more Herbie Mann than Aqualung but I'm cool with that. I generally like the Threadman though this showcases his improvisational abilities more than this writing; when paired with McCall though, there's always a strong connection to groove on.

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