Live Air

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Live Air is actually equally divided between two live dates recorded a year apart. The first, at Sam Rivers' New York City loft, Studio Rivbea, is a pretty quiet affair. On "Eulogy for Charles Clark," the trio is extremely hushed, Threadgill's flute work clearly evoking shakuhachi techniques. He remains on flute for "Portrait of Leo Smith," upping the volume level only slightly on one of his patented herky-jerky melodies that never quite settles into a groove but skips enticingly around it as guided by the able hands of the late Fred Hopkins. Side two of the vinyl release is from a set in Michigan and immediately rips into the group's classic tune "Keep Right on Playing Thru the Mirror Over the Water," Threadgill's alto burning through the theme and multiple variations and the late Steve McCall giving ample evidence of why he was a modern master of the drums. Its blues-drenched melody made it one of Air's concert mainstays and this is one exceptionally fine performance, worth the price of the album. The closing "Be Ever Out" is a fine whirlwind of a piece, almost tying Threadgill in knots were this band not so elastic and imaginative. Especially worthwhile for the Michigan set, Live Air is a must for any fan of this wonderful trio.

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