Anthony Braxton: 19 Standards (Quartet) 2003 (2010)
Innovative progressive-jazz and avant-gardist Anthony Braxton employs his arsenal of saxophones while covering gems from the past, evidenced by his smoothly swinging spin on Tommy Dorsey's "So Rare," amid a medley of jazz and pop standards. These four discs capture the quartet's 2003 European tour, enamored by the crystalline audio processing and a muse that transmits an antithesis to the musical roads often traversed.
Braxton's rippling notes generate a consortium of sublime and heated contrasts with the under-recorded and hugely talented guitarist Kevin O'Neil. The band swings and bops during the majority of the program; however, Braxton tosses a few curves into the mix, most notably on the ethereal and dark improvisational segment, "G. Petal (Improvisation)."
The soloists coalesce understated grooves while redefining a given melody. And they spiral into heated exchanges while tempering the various flows. Percussionist Kevin Norton adds timber with his over-the-top vibes treatments. Nonetheless, the quartet generates a revved-up level of excitement via blistering exchanges, evidenced when Braxton and O'Neil launch an aerial assault, consisting of turbo-mode 16th notes and other components.
Braxton and O'Neil execute scat-like phrasings on Miles Davis' "Half Nelson" and reconfigure Frank Loesser's "Inch Worm," by morphing free-form stylizations into a jazz-waltz groove. Here, the musicians intertwine the familiar hook into bustling and multidirectional movements, their progressive-jazz and avant tendencies offering more than just an album of retreads. Similar to the basic groundwork laid out by the quartet's previous efforts, they inject a modernist edge into the roads previously traveled. With sterling musicianship, the quartet expressively melds sheer firepower with elegance, and a persuasive mode of execution, which seeds a refreshing ambiance into these time-honored standards.
Track Listing: CD1: Four; Body and Soul; Petal (Improvisation); So Rare; It's You or No One. CD2: Half Nelson; Ruby My Dear; The Girl from Ipanema; Afternoon in Paris. CD3: East of the Sun' Afro-Blue; Nancy with the Laughing Face; Little Melonae; What's New. CD4: Minority; Inch Worm; Mr. P.C.; Dear Old Stockholm; Like Someone in Love.
Personnel: Kevin O'Neil: guitar; Kevin Norton: drums; Andy Eulau: bass; Anthony Braxton: saxophones.