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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.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.