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World Music CD Reviews Jazz

PYENG THREADGILL

By Paul-Emile Comeau
Published June 27, 2006

Of The Air
Random Chance

With her acclaimed debut Sweet Home, one of the most distinctive albums of Robert Johnson songs ever released, Threadgill revealed herself as a new contender in the world of jazz singers. It was also the type of album which caused those who heard it to wonder what she’d do as a follow-up. Of The Air, which consists of Threadgill’s own songs, is less unusual, but it still has much to recommend it. While one sometimes gets the impression that some of Threadgill’s lyrics are assembled simply to have a showcase for her vocals, everything comes together in the end. The core trio of acoustic bass, electric guitar and drums offers consistently solid and inventive accompaniment, but guest musicians, such as saxophonist Dimitri Moderbacher on “Power Trip,” also make strong contributions to various tracks. Together they straddle the fence between jagged jazz and funky blues in a way that’s resolutely modern but not to the extent of flirting with the avant-garde. The album ends with Fats Waller’s “The Jitterbug Waltz,” to which Threadgill and Abbey Lincoln contributed lyrics.