Anthony Braxton: Trio & Quintet (Town Hall) 1972 (2011)
Maybe the world wasn't ready for the music of Anthony Braxton back in 1972, when this concert was recorded, and maybe it wasn't ready for him, when it was released twenty years later in 1992. Then again, is it really ready for him today? Certainly, and this music is very accessible.
This beautifully remastered edition of New York's Town Hall concert is another clue into the puzzle of Braxton's musical genius. Braxton circa 1972 was a 27-year old Chicagoan, an affiliate with the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), and a member of the legendary band Circle with Chick Corea, Dave Holland, and Barry Altschul. He had, in 1969, recorded the devastating For Alto (Delmark, 1971), the first solo free jazz saxophone disc ever released, and was soon to produce several sessions of recontextualized standards for SteepleChase Records (a concept to which he returns to this day).
The first half of this concert comprises two original pieces and Jerome Kern's standard "All The Things You Are." Played in trio, with Dave Holland and drummer Philip Wilson, the thoroughly composed pieces open into well-proportioned group improvisations and soloing. Within the context of the Kern song, this design is best demonstrated, its familiar melody tweaked by Braxton and Holland, slowing or speeding through passages to skew the frame of reference and the meaning of group interaction.
Next, Braxton's quintet, featuringsaxophonist John Stubblefield, Holland and Barry Altschul, takes the stage with vocalist Jeanne Lee. The two lengthy parts reveal just how far out Braxton was prepared to take jazz. Like his mentors in the AACM, his world view of creative music includes operatic and orchestra components, free of traditional timing and parts. This music tracks the experiments of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, but with a more composed sound and structure. It is another piece to understanding (and loving) the puzzle that is Anthony Braxton.
Track Listing: Composition 6 N / Composition 6 (O); All the Things You Are; Composition 6 P I; Composition 6 P II.
Personnel: Anthony Braxton: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute, contrabass clarinet, soprano clarinet, B-flat clarinet, percussion; Dave Holland: double bass; Philip Wilson: drums (1, 2); John Stubblefield: tenor saxophone, flute, bass clarinet, gong, percussion (3, 4); Jeanne Lee: voice (3, 4); Barry Altschul: drums (3, 4).