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Anthony Braxton: Composition No.94 For Three Instrumentalists (1980)

Glenn Astarita By

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The folks at Leo Records remind us that “new jazz”, “free-jazz” or “new music” is over 40 years old as they approach their 20th anniversary as a fine, cutting-edge label often featuring old and new talent. Here, on their newly launched “Golden Years of New Jazz” label, we celebrate the first of four new releases, with a live and “previously undocumented” recording by the Anthony Braxton Trio featuring trombonist Ray Anderson and guitarist James Emery. Recorded in Bologna, Italy in 1980, this recording is titled, Composition No.94 For Three Instrumentalists (1980). While the recording quality on this particular release is less than perfect we are dealing with a certain amount of “history” within the free or improvised-jazz realm. After all, we still listen to those old low-fi Charlie Parker records...........On this release, the music is first and foremost! Graham Lock contributes the insightful and comprehensive liners, complete with examples of Braxton’s often complex and unique music inscriptions and notations. Here we are treated to two sets, which clock in at 76 minutes.

On this recording, Braxton utilizes his customary arsenal of woodwind instruments while Ray Anderson performs on alto and tenor trombone, cornet and slide trumpet. Guitarist James Emery performs on acoustic and electric guitars while dabbling with some good old analog electronics which are put to good use and not overly exaggerated within this framework, especially considering the fascination with electronic gadgets during this timeframe in history. Emery provides color, while at times launching the themes or dialogue into linear concepts, which become expanded upon by the trio while remaining within the context of Braxton’s seemingly difficult to perform compositions. Much of the interplay is fascinating via multitonal instrumentation and imaginative improvisation. As usual, Braxton’s perspectives and deeply personal if not scholarly approach defies categorization as his bandmates also give it their all!

Anthony Braxton’s Composition No.94 For Three Instrumentalists (1980) is an important edition to a form of music which evolves yet beckons rediscovery. Leo Records has dutifully addressed that notion with the advent of this new record label! * * * *

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