Make a difference: Support jazz online

Support All About Jazz Your friends at All About Jazz are looking for readers to help back our website upgrade project. Of critical importance, this project will result in a vastly improved design across all devices and will make future All About Jazz projects much easier to implement. Click here to learn more about this project including donation rewards.

197

Anthony Braxton/Matt Bauder: 2 + 2 Compositions

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Having the opportunity to watch woodwind multi-instrumentalist/composer Anthony Braxton perform one of his compositions in concert provides a distinct insight into just how directed his pieces—which sometimes give more of an impression of random activity when experienced on record—really are. Looking at one of them on paper can be even more revealing. While standard notation may be a component of the score, one is equally likely to find odd graphics which clearly have significance to the performers, but seem completely unfathomable to the uninformed observer.

Braxton is one of the past forty years' great radical musical thinkers, someone who can be cordial and clear in conversation one moment, equally warm but obliquely abstract the next. But truthfully, he simply operates on a different plane than the vast majority, and his compositions reflect the kind of rich complexity that is so beyond the conventional that one really has to listen to them with a different set of ears.

Indeed, Braxton's two compositions on 2 + 2 Compositions, titled "324b and "327c —he avoids any kind of nomenclature that might prejudice the listener—reflect a disposition towards texture and timbre, as opposed to melody and harmony. Indeed, the only words in the legend of his scores for these two pieces are "sound rather than pitch. Braxton and his bandmates—double-bassist Zach Wallace, percussionist Aaron Siegel, and saxophonist/clarinetist Matt Bauder, a young composer who contributes the other two compositions on the disc—were recently seen as part of Braxton's sextet at the 22nd FIMAV festival in Victoriaville, Canada. They are clearly capable of interpreting the kind of directed improvisation that Braxton's compositions represent.

Bauder, whose "Dots was inspired by John Cage's "Atlas Eclipticalis, translates the aleatoric system (music characterized by chance or indeterminate elements) into a jazz quartet context with a score that consists of dots scattered across a page with straight lines running through them to group them into musical staves. "Scaffolding is divided into four sections that break the quartet into four trios, which cycle through a variety of sound classes, such as "isolated non-resonant impulses and "continuous resonant.

The description of these compositions implies a challenging listen, which is true in part. By avoiding traditonal musical constructs, these pieces offer little precedence—except, perhaps, if one is already familiar with Braxton's compositional approach to improvisation. Still, if one can expand one's horizons and absorb these pieces as purely textural entities, then not only does each piece represent its own inner development, but the four pieces, sequenced together, create a narrative that builds from the more spacious "Scaffolding to the busier "Composition No. 327c.

2 + 2 Compositions isn't apt to win a lot of traditional jazz fans over—the music, despite its improvisational nature, leans more towards a contemporary classical sensibility—but it can be a revealing listen and an open window to the ideas of Anthony Braxton, for whom fresh approaches often mean dispensing with convention.

Visit Anthony Braxton on the web.


Track Listing: Scaffolding; Composition No. 324b; Dots; Composition No. 327c

Personnel: Anthony Braxton (F saxophone, Eb clarinet); Matt Bauder (tenor saxophone, clarinet); Zach Wallace (double-bass); Aaron Siegel (percussion)

Title: 2 + 2 Compositions | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: 482 Music

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Lucas CD/LP/Track Review Lucas
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: January 22, 2018
Read In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording CD/LP/Track Review In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 22, 2018
Read D'Agala CD/LP/Track Review D'Agala
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 22, 2018
Read Not Bound CD/LP/Track Review Not Bound
by Don Phipps
Published: January 22, 2018
Read Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House CD/LP/Track Review Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 21, 2018
Read Journey to a New World CD/LP/Track Review Journey to a New World
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 21, 2018
Read "Lucas" CD/LP/Track Review Lucas
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: January 22, 2018
Read "Burn The Boat" CD/LP/Track Review Burn The Boat
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: May 18, 2017
Read "Tied Together, Not to the Ground" CD/LP/Track Review Tied Together, Not to the Ground
by Geno Thackara
Published: July 9, 2017
Read "Strange Days - 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition" CD/LP/Track Review Strange Days - 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition
by Doug Collette
Published: December 9, 2017
Read "Aleka" CD/LP/Track Review Aleka
by Ian Patterson
Published: November 21, 2017
Read "The Day After" CD/LP/Track Review The Day After
by David A. Orthmann
Published: February 14, 2017