Anthony Braxton’s duo work has so far been a mixed success. Not all of these recordings have worked, given the attitude and disposition of the players. While improvisation has been the core of these meetings, the specific approach chosen has dictated the outcome. Taylor Ho Bynum is clearly a soul mate, and the one unwritten tune, “Improvisation,” proves this fact beyond the pale of a doubt. The empathy is immediate as the two players invest the sonic palette with manifold permutations from the sumptuously mellifluous alto sax to the fleet fulminations of the trumpbonethe squeaks, the trills and the linear all finding ready acknowledgement without losing a tick.
Time and silence are characteristics that have always marked Braxton’s music. These traits are well evidenced here, perhaps none more so than on the aptly titled “To Wait.” The pace is deliberate, nothing vaunted in hurry, and purpose is well served in the reflective dialogue and the understated, yet eloquent responses. A sense of urgency briefly fires “Composition 304.” Long lines splinter into rapid fire shards, light filigrees float in consonance, the patterns shift constantly, the embers glow in the radiance of the music. “All Roads Lead To Middletown” gives rise to a happy feeling with the arrival of a strong melody that swings. Of course the tune would not be complete if this sense was not dissipated for a turn in the road and free meander. It matters not what tale they tell; Braxton and Bynum do it simpatico.