|Recorded in New York City in 1960, AIR has the airy but radical feeling of other early Cecil Taylor records like JAZZ ADVANCE and LOOKING AHEAD. Playing against the jazz tradition, Taylor arms himself with killer technique and a penchant for anarchy. You can hear traces of Monk, funk, and the avant-garde, but this is pure Cecil--going against the grain and JAMMING.
The first two tracks introduce drummer Sunny Murray to the jazz world. Murray starts off with a rumbly, abstract rhythm that straightens into a groove. Taylor uses motives to build his ideas, but he's after pure feeling, the true impulse. Referencing Monk, Cecil strains against the idiom--the steady pulse, the jazz chords, the structures of ABA. On "Air (take 9)," Dennis Charles is ragged, but magnificent. Archie Shepp makes his recording debut on this tune, and is bursting with promise and vitality. In Cecil's solo, new reserves of urgency come to the surface. The humanity beneath Taylor's sometimes cerebral approach is plain on "Air (take 21)," when his angular piano playing really starts to hum, and it sounds as if he's telling jokes to himself.