Jazz is often viewed as a progressive art form, one that by its very nature is constantly changing and reinventing itself. The paradox is that change isn't always what the audience wants to hear, so it frequently takes awhile simply to catch up. Such seems to be the case with the music of Anthony Braxton, one of music's most demanding theorists as well as a prolific talent whose well of creativity seems bottomless. In 2009 Mosaic compiled and issued a boxed set of a good chunk of his work from the '70s, including the acclaimed Creative Orchestra Music (Arista, 1976). Those compositions were reprised on a tour of Europe, and this double-CD presents the Creative Orchestra in Cologne, Germany, two years later. Those curious about Braxton but discouraged by the sheer number of recordings available may find this the place to start. Most of Braxton's work falls into two categoriesmore difficult and less difficultbut these 100 minutes of music are decidedly in the latter category. Braxton is among a handful of jazz composers whose music is part of the graduate-level course in the avant-garde.
Braxton doesn't play in this band, but several familiar names appear on the CD's back cover: reed men Marty Ehrlich, Vinny Golia and Ned Rothenberg. Pianist Marilyn Crispell. Trombonists JD Parran, Ray Anderson and George Lewis. Trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith. It's a testament to Braxton's influence, esteem and ability to recognize and cultivate talent that so many future luminaries were assembled for these shows. Had Bob Ostertag, whose synthesizer defines the opening piece of the first set ("Language Improvisations") ever conceived of producing his bleeps and bloops in such a setting? Braxton's compositions are notoriously difficult and this opener sets a daunting precedent, but as Braxton's notated pieces are brought forth, the big band dynamics generate continuous excitement and the soloists are encouraged to create in the moment. Rothenberg on alto and Anderson on trombone burn and blare as "Composition 45" closes part one.
"Composition 59," which opens the second disc, serves as a transition to what makes this music arguably the most enjoyable of Braxton's career. Ehrlich's sopranino is captivating and as the piece concludes with breathy trumpet sounds and electric synth and guitar noises, it gives way to "Composition 51," clearly in the Duke Ellington tradition with call-and-response sections and hot soloing from Ehrlich and Golia. Finally, it's the closing number, the beloved "Composition 58," here presented in full glorious flower, that blows away all the atonal density. John Philip Sousa marches to New Orleans as Braxton demonstrates that you have to know the rules before you can break them.
I was first exposed to Jazz when a couple of dear friends of mine turned me onto it around 1971. I was already into Progressive music, R n' B, Soul, Motown, Latin Rock and other styles that were a great ladder to Jazz
I was first exposed to Jazz when a couple of dear friends of mine turned me onto it around 1971. I was already into Progressive music, R n' B, Soul, Motown, Latin Rock and other styles that were a great ladder to Jazz.
Being a Musician myself, (Lead Guitar/Bass Guitar), I studied at the Dick Grove School of Music with Dick Grove, Jeff Richman and Lee Ritenour. This was around '84-'85. I started playing the Guitar in November 1967. Playing Guitar came quite naturally to me thank goodness. Though I spent hours upon hours practicing while my school buddies were doing Sports.
It was in the early '70s that I really got into Jazz, Jazz Rock, Jazz Fusion and World Music. Seeing Weather Report, Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Larry Carlton, Steely Dan, John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, RTF, Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters, VSOP, Freddie Hubbard and so many, many more amazing artists opened my eyes to the beauty and eloquent nature of Jazz. I really love the brilliant ensemble playing that is in Jazz!!
When I play and write music, it blends so many style together. Many fans ask me why my playing sounds so jazzy. It's because I understand Blue Notes, the phrasing, the tonality, time signatures and more. I can also play Rock, Folk, Soul, R n' B and other styles too. I seem to gravitate more and more as I get older to a jazzier style. Currently I'm 62 years old. I have released 2 CDs world-wide. Working on my 3rd.
I also teach Guitar/Bass/Music Theory to my students. They range from 6 years old to much, much older. (I was hired by the City of Aurora, CO to teach ages 6-13 specifically). Currently I teach 41 children in 5 classes. Additionally another 7 private students.
My wife, Meesh, and I love Jazz dearly. It was one of the things that we share together!
Most of the people that I know today do not get jazz. I try to explain what to listen for, but many times the music of Jazz is a bit much for them. So be it.
In a nutshell, I live, breath and listen to Music 24/7. No TV except the Food Channel and Weather.
I love John Kelman's articles. They are so insightful and well-constructed!
Thank you all for doing what you do.