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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 persuasions instill a seat-of-the-pants type of entertainment factor. The orchestra sheds new light on the oft-used, "cutting- edge" descriptor. And, given the time frame, the music holds its weight 30 years after its initial release.
Braxton's compositions contain odd-metered developments as he amalgamates the grand schema with avant expressionism amid unorthodox treatments by synth ace Bob Ostertag and angular electric guitar parts by James Emery. On "Language Improvisations," interweaving horns, touched with a semi-classical tone, give way to a symphony of abstracts, hued by percussionist Thurman Barker's vibes work and Wheeler's blaring solo. The multi-part framework elicits asymmetrical doses of emotive aspects, including loneliness and tumult, emphasized by Ostertag's streaming synth maneuvers.
Braxton's overall muse consists of densely populated mini-motifs, offset by intricately executed bop choruses, wily soloing spots, and pungent accents by the horn section. He also injects a festive aura into various movements, yet does so in non-traditional formats. It's all about synchronicity and balanced approaches, to complement the occasional free-form breakouts. Braxton's piece "Comp. 59" is embedded with start-stop passages, booming punctuations, and Ehrlich's whirlwind sopranino solo. Here, the artists fuse a contemporary classical vibe with misty dreamlike intervals and gobs of impressionism. Essentially, (Köln) 1978 looms as a monumental work, highlighting Braxton's striking ingenuity, acute vision, and nouveau concepts by transforming jazz music into an illimitable vista.