Comprised originally of Henry Threadgill on reeds, bassist Fred Hopkins, and drummer Steve McCall, Air emphasized equality of roles by the instruments (without any clear-cut leader) and a smooth mixture of advanced arrangements and free improvisations. In 1971, Threadgill was asked to arrange some of Scott Joplin's songs for a production at Columbia College in Chicago. He teamed up with Hopkins and McCall as the trio Reflection. A few years later, in 1975, the musicians came together again as Air, touring Europe, Japan, and America and recording 11 records for such labels as Nessa, India Navigation, Black Saint, Novus, and Antilles.
By far their most popular release was 1979's Air Lore, which found the group performing abstract versions of tunes by Joplin and Jelly Roll Morton. In 1982, when McCall returned to Chicago and was replaced by Pheeroan akLaff, the group changed its name to New Air. A year before their breakup in 1986, Andrew Cyrille took over the drum slot. All of the musicians (other than McCall who passed away in 1989) went on to have very productive careers. ~ Bruce Eder, All Music Guide