Whenever you pick up an Anthony Braxton recording, you can generally expect to hear a distinctive combination of structured composition and full-bodied improvisation. No exception with Compositions/Improvisations 2000. On this disc, Braxton joins forces with reed player Scott Rosenberg, a like-minded individual with his own compositional aesthetic and open-ended style of playing. Roughly a third of the tracks consist of compositions by each player, and the remainder features free improvisation.
The material on Compositions/Improvisations tends toward a chamber music soundstark, reduced, deliberate playing... no reckless abandon here! Interestingly, the lines between formal composition and free improvisation blur: both kinds of piece feature delicate interaction between the two players. (Though I must say I prefer the openness of the pure improvisations, which are each only a couple minutes long.) Rosenberg and Braxton play an amazing variety of instruments using a wide range of approaches. From throaty growls to piercing whistles, from angular melodies to pointillistic thrusts, their sonic palette is expansive. But it's carefully utilized, making Compositions/Improvisations more of an intellectual pursuit than a visceral adventure. (And recorded in exquisite detail, the disc reveals every nuance of overtone and breath.) This recording is a nice addition to Braxton's massive oeuvre, and it reveals Scott Rosenberg as a musician to watch.
Personnel: Anthony Braxton: soprano, alto, and C melody saxophones; flute; B-flat, E-flat contra-alto and contrabass clarinets. Scott Rosenberg: sopranino, alto, and tenor saxophones; contrabass clarinet.