Last year was a breakthrough in Threadgill's long career: Mosaic and Soul Note / Black Saint reissues, PI new album, a couple of complete retrospectives published on Italian magazines (Blow Up and Jazz.It), not to mention The Wire. As far as reissues of his first trio, the one with Steve McCall and Fred Hopkins, Air Raid is probably his finest. Originally recorded in 1976, following previous year's Air Song, the album presents compositions in which players are allowed to take full control over interaction dynamics without backdropping any lead musician. Air Raid opens with Threadgill on chinese musette and alto offering a perfect essay in trio's art: suspension and strain (arco's vamping and droning doubled with exotic horns) rapidly reach their peak with alto/bass/drums nervous exchanges and then unleash the tension in sound/silence articulations. Fred Hopkins' harmonizations on Midnight Sun (beautifully lyrical and melancholic) reminds of Charlie Haden work with Ornette Coleman on pieces like Broken Shadows: both were opening tones, giving them an anchorage, offering a balance and broadening space in front of horn's full blown. Release is the lenghtiest composition of the record. Threadgill plays flute and hubkaphone, a self-built instrument, gamelan-like, made by putting together cars hubcaps. In Through a Keyhole Darkly plucked and bowed arco and brashes give a quiet setting for tenor balladry, givind the record a nocturne ending.
Henry Threadgill - tenor, baritone and alto saxophones, flute, hubkaphone; Fred Hopkins - bass; Steve McCall - percussion
Tracklist: 01. Air Raid - 02. Midnight Sun - 03. Release - 04. Through a Keyhole Darkly