The Air Is Still and the Light Is Cool #21

New York Art Quartet, S/T, (ESP 2009 reissue of 1965 LP)

Maybe more obvious than other “Air Is Still” selections, but I love this record more every time I play it and it wrapped me up the first time I played it (on vinyl) when I was beginning to understand free jazz after moving to Cambridge in 1977.

Here’s the basic scoop.

Rudd (and Tchicai) dominate, not only because they wrote all the material — except Amiri Baraka’s precise, lacerating addition of his own “Black Dada Nihilismus” (feels utterly up-to-this-moment) — but because the trombonist and the alto sax player share an approach/understanding of free jazz that makes it no enemy of the lyrical, the playful, the song-like. But unbounded as any improvisations. This really is a prime choice to play for those who say they don’t like/understand “free jazz.”

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