3

Anthony Braxton / Miya Masaoka: Duo (DCWM) 2013

John Sharpe By

Sign in to view read count
Typically for acclaimed reedman, composer and educator Anthony Braxton his encounter with the Japanese koto, played here by Miya Masaoka, is not even the first such duet in his voluminous discography. That was 11 Compositions (Duo) 1995 with Brett Larner (Leo Records, 1997) which interpreted written materials. For all intents and purposes, Duo (DCWM) 2013 is freely improvised, but with the notable addition of Braxton's interactive electronic textures which add an air of mystery through generally unobtrusive washes, shimmers, tinkled chimes and sine wave chords, making the self-styled Diamond Curtain Wall moniker all the more appropriate.

Over the course of 2CDs containing three cuts, Braxton switches between sopranino, soprano and alto saxophones, but whatever the register his attitude remains the same. He runs the entire gamut of expression, from pure-toned whistles, cool school phraseology, his characteristic double time gallop, querulous murmurs, lyrical fragments, and keypad pattering to wheezy vocalizations, like an old man reminiscing about his life.

He never goes for broke, but seems always on the verge of transforming to something else. Masaoka calls on an astonishing range of non chordal, non linear rejoinders. She strums, swipes, picks, bends notes, bows strings, offers detuned twangs, rapidfire arpeggios, blues guitar sonorities and booming rubbed vibrations.

While sometimes the results might seem like two unassociated tracks (three even, when the electronics kick in), that view is discredited by an often shared sense of dynamics, common pauses, and simultaneous changes in attack, as opposed to melodic or rhythmic continuity. In some ways this meeting most resembles Braxton's discs with iconoclastic guitarist Derek Bailey, and it is comparable in that their differing tactics reach rapprochement through attentive listening.

It's not possible to discern any cause and effect in what triggers the electronics. At points you can almost hear Masaoka testing the computer program, essaying rippling glissandi or isolated sallies and then pausing to hear what if any response it draws.

Extended techniques by both participants, especially Masaoka, make for a kaleidoscopic exchange of unalloyed sound with instrumental norms transcended: a conversation in unfathomable languages with unknown syntax. Overall the session conjures a dreamlike, trance inducing state. For a jazz audience the passages that perform best are likely when staccato koto plucks punctuate flowing saxophone, but perhaps that is just down to similarity to standard procedures. As with much of Braxton's work, this is sui generis and both aficionados and those with open ears will find much to savor.

Track Listing: Experience 1; Experience 2; Experience 3.

Personnel: Anthony Braxton: sopranino, soprano and alto saxophones, electronics; Miya Masaoka: 21 string koto.

Title: Duo (DCWM) 2013 | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Rogue Art

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Album Reviews
Book Reviews
Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Multiple Reviews
Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Album Reviews
General Articles
Album Reviews
Extended Analysis
Album Reviews
Read more articles
Sextet (Parker) 1993

Sextet (Parker) 1993

New Braxton House
2018

buy
3 Compositions (EEMHM) 2011

3 Compositions...

Firehouse 12 Records
2016

buy

Related Articles

Read Down & Dirty Album Reviews
Down & Dirty
By Jack Bowers
July 21, 2019
Read Sublunary Minds Album Reviews
Sublunary Minds
By Troy Dostert
July 21, 2019
Read Peace Planet & Box of Light Album Reviews
Peace Planet & Box of Light
By Don Phipps
July 21, 2019
Read Hyperuranion Album Reviews
Hyperuranion
By Glenn Astarita
July 21, 2019
Read The Turning Album Reviews
The Turning
By Bruce Lindsay
July 20, 2019
Read Reveries and Revelations Album Reviews
Reveries and Revelations
By John Eyles
July 20, 2019
Read Live/Shapeshifter Album Reviews
Live/Shapeshifter
By Don Phipps
July 20, 2019