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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Anthony Braxton: Sax Quintet (New York) 1998

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Saxophone agglomerations are not without precedent in reedman/composer Anthony Braxton's copious playbook. Indeed, his “Composition 37" for four saxophones on New York, Fall 1974 (Arista, 1975) could be said to have launched the genre, bringing together as it did three of the founder members of the pioneering World Saxophone Quartet two years before their eventual formation. What is perhaps even more remarkable about Sax Quintet (New York) 1998 is that the single piece performed, “Composition 173," was originally scored for a different instrumentation entirely (four actors, two soloists and ensemble, as documented on Composition 173 (Black Saint, 1996)), although you ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Anthony Braxton: Tentet (Wesleyan) 1999

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Even though his output suggests that saxophonist/composer/educator Anthony Braxton has never wanted for outlets for his music, he hasn't always had the control he desired. All that changed with the launch in 2011 of the New Braxton House imprint, which issues a new digital download each month drawn from his voluminous archives. This initiative has allowed the gaps in his back catalogue to be filled, and edges ever closer to the goal of documenting all the master's works. On the double CD Tentet (Wesleyan) 1999, each disc showcases a single continuous piece.Aficionados will know that between 1995 and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Anthony Braxton: Eight (+1) Tristano Compositions 1989 For Warne Marsh

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Long valued as an elusive, out of print collector's item, the recently reissued Eight (+1) Tristano Compositions 1989 For Warne Marsh offers listeners another opportunity to reevaluate composer Anthony Braxton's vibrant reinterpretation of the groundbreaking pianist's work. Dedicated to the tenor saxophonist most commonly associated with pianist Lennie Tristano's oeuvre, this 1989 session originally included versions of “How Deep is the Ocean" and “Time on My Hands," two Great American Songbook standards related to the genial duo's purview. Omitting those numbers, the ensuing program consists of eight challenging Tristano originals and one Warne Marsh tune.A common complaint about ...

ON AND OFF THE GRID

Anthony and Me

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When I was asked to write a column for All About Jazz, my question was what should I write about? I was told anything that was music-oriented.I decided that being a professional musician for more than fifty years, I could write about the things I care about, know about, have strong opinions about based on my own experiences that might be worth sharing. In no way do I want the reading public to think this is about self-promotion. For me this is an opportunity to share my life experiences and hopefully they might, in some small way, help ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Anthony Braxton: Trio and Quintet (Town Hall) 1972

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If Anthony Braxton were to be judged on the basis of his oeuvre alone, he would stand completely apart from any modern composer, bar none. He has an enormous body of work, written for every conceivable permutation and combination of ensemble, from two to over a hundred and also for practically all the modern instruments known to musicians. As a reeds and winds player, he has a staggering technique, but not only this: he dives deep into the soul to extract the most subtle emotions. This he brings to bear on the abstract as well as the concrete music that ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Anthony Braxton: Trio & Quintet (Town Hall) 1972

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Time has an ability to obscure certain details of the past. This notion is apparent when considering the multi-decade oeuvre of visionary composer Anthony Braxton, whose restructuralist Tri-Axium Theory is as unique as Ornette Coleman's Harmolodic Theory or Cecil Taylor's Unit Structures. Braxton's use of pulse structures and multiple logics has long encouraged a considerable amount of expressive autonomy from performers, yet the composer's idiosyncratic aesthetic has commonly been attributed to an iconoclastic sensibility that inadvertently undervalues his seminal membership in the AACM--an organization whose collective ideology places great importance on group collaboration. Embracing this communal methodology more than most ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Anthony Braxton: Trio & Quintet (Town Hall) 1972

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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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Anthony Braxton: 19 Standards (Quartet) 2003

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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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Anthony Braxton / Jerry Hemmingway: Old Dogs

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It is very difficult to separate the music of saxophonist Anthony Braxton and percussionist Gerry Hemingway from the actual experience of listening to four-disc, four-plus hour Old Dogs (2007). Each disc represents a morning or afternoon's work, recorded at Wesleyan University in early August, 2007, requiring almost complete immersion--letting go each moment, as it passes. There is little possibility of consuming this music in one sitting; it requires listening in either small bites, or an unfettered approach of allowing the music to flow through. Hemmingway was a member of Braxton's quartet from 1983-1994 (one of the saxophonist's most ...

ARTIST PROFILES

Introducing Anthony Braxton

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[Editor's Note: This article first appeared in Jazz & Pop Magazine, 1970]To anyone still questioning the validity of the systems and methods at which Cecil Taylor and Ornette Coleman arrived, I would first of all recommend that he listen more attentively to the work of those men. But I'd also suggest that he make it a point to hear the strong and very exciting musics of an emergent collection of musicians from Chicago who constitute what is already a third wave of New Music players (Ayler, Shepp, Dolphy, etc., representing the second), and whose very existence serves to ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Anthony Braxton: Creative Orchestra (Koln) 1978

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Jazz is often viewed as a progressive art form, one that by its very nature is constantly changing and reinventing itself. The paradox is that change isn't always what the audience wants to hear, so it frequently takes awhile simply to catch up. Such seems to be the case with the music of Anthony Braxton, one of music's most demanding theorists as well as a prolific talent whose well of creativity seems bottomless. In 2009 Mosaic compiled and issued a boxed set of a good chunk of his work from the '70s, including the acclaimed Creative Orchestra Music (Arista, 1976). ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Anthony Braxton: Creative Orchestra (Koln) 1978

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Composer and multi-reedman Anthony Braxton's complex and personalized compositional paradigms emanated in the 1960s, underscored by 12 language types, diagrams, and other methodologies to complement the improvisation aspect. On this double-disc, 2009 reissue of a 1978 concert, Braxton employs a diverse dream team including reedmen Marty Ehrlich and Ned Rothenberg and trumpeter Kenny Wheeler. Consequently, Braxton lays down his woodwinds and focuses on the conduction element throughout a mesmeric cycle of events.

The program parallels Braxton's 1970s Creative Orchestra work for Arista Records, re-released by Mosaic Records as an eight-CD boxed set in 2008. Ultimately, the artist's creative ...

BOOK REVIEWS

Time and Anthony Braxton

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Time and Anthony Braxton Stuart Broomer Softcover; 146 pages ISBN: 1551281449 Mercury Press 2009

The Anthony Braxton aesthetic is a lot to comprehend--the man has written pieces to be performed by orchestras on different planets, so it's understandable if the vision is a little daunting. And it's also understandable that the two primary works on the man's music should find ways to constrain their efforts: Graham Lock, in 1988's Forces in Motion, centered his study around an 11-day UK tour by Braxton's quartet. And in the new Time and Anthony ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ran Blake & Anthony Braxton: A Memory Of Vienna

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On November 19, 1988, a few days before the Cool Noir music festival in Vienna, composer Franz Koglmann finished recording Orte Der Geometrie (Hatart) with his Pipetet a couple hours earlier than expected. A number of high profile artists and musicians were in attendance for the festival, so efforts were made to utilize the remaining pre-paid studio time. Pianist Ran Blake was on hand, as a special guest of the Pipetet, and composer/multi-instrumentalist Anthony Braxton had just stopped by the studio. The idea of recording Blake and Braxton as a duo arose, inspired in part by their duet on the ...



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