Somewhat of a contrast to the modern jazz/improv-based ensemble work witnessed on the acclaimed multi-reedman/composer’s recent releases on “hatOLOGY” and the “C.I.M.P” jazz labels, Anthony Braxton’s Composition N. 247 is a trio outing featuring saxophonist/clarinetist James Fei and bagpipe performer, Matthew Welch. Hence, an unlikely instrumentation mix, yet Braxton, ever the innovator, perhaps parallels a scientist attempting to hurdle a complex mathematical formula, due to the implied complexities and geometric attributes of the music exhibited here. Basically, this new extended composition resides within the artist’s “Ghost Trance Music” series, which he describes as a “melody that doesn’t end”.
James Fei should be commended for his extensive and articulate play-by-play of the mechanics and overall implications of this piece as he also proceeds to expound upon the sonic characteristics of bagpipes. Naturally, this composition presents it’s fair share of challenges to the musicians, who need to be in synch while performing hypnotic and at times, minimalist style unison lines amid seamless shifts in tempo. Therefore, getting all this done in one take, presented more than a few obstacles. However, listening to this piece in one sitting should be deemed a prerequisite, although when viewed upon as a whole, the invariability of the proceedings demands an acute attention span, especially when considering all of the subtle nuances and barely detectable transformations.