Big Air

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Big Air
LABELS: Babel
PERFORMER: Chris Batchelor (trumpet), Steve Buckley (sax), Myra Melford (piano), Oren Marshall (tuba), Jim Black (drums)
CATALOGUE NO: BDV 2880

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This disc has already attracted considerable critical acclaim purely on the basis of advance copies. And I’m more than happy to add my voice to the chorus. International bands like this one are usually about finding common ground; the Big Air quintet, however, is more a celebration of uncommon ground, with results that aren’t so much free jazz as jazz which has been kicked out of the back door and told it’s free whether it likes it or not.

This produces some wonderfully rumbustious music that ricochets between splendidly wonky melodic and textural statements (the latter aided by various electronic noises that seem like a digital microcosm of the music as a whole).

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There’s the kind of uninhibited yet articulate roar-up that only a group of this calibre could handle. The disc’s slightly overproduced sound loses a star, but don’t let that deter you. Roger Thomas