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Anthony Braxton: Solo Bern 1984 First Visit

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Anthony Braxton: Solo Bern 1984 First Visit
Following hot on the heels of Cecil Taylor Unit's Live At Fat Tuesday's February 9, 1980, First Visit (ezz-thetics, 2024)—the inaugural release of ezz-thetics' First Visit series—comes another never-before-released live album. This one dates from July 7th, 1984, and was recorded live at Altes Schlachthaus, Bern, Switzerland. It features a thirty-nine-year-old Anthony Braxton alone, playing alto saxophone versions of sixteen pieces, twelve being Braxton compositions and four standards—Coltrane's "Giant Steps" and "Naima," Arthur Schwartz' "Alone Together" from the '30s Broadway musical Flying Colors, and Victor Schertzinger's 1941 song "I Remember You"

Braxton's second recorded album For Alto, which was recorded in the summer of 1969 and released on Delmark in 1971, was the first jazz album solely comprising solo saxophone. It was well received and highly praised, being called revolutionary, and frequently awarded five stars. Nonetheless, despite such plaudits, Braxton did not concentrate on solo saxophone after the praise, playing more in groups of assorted sizes and branching out with his compositions. In the years between For Alto and the current album, the number of solo albums he recorded did not reach double figures. The solo concert documented here was the only one in the two years from summer 1983 to summer 1985. Despite that, there was an audience for Braxton's live solo concerts, as demonstrated by the prolonged. enthusiastic applause the audience gives each piece here.

The compositions that Braxton selected to play at the concert were all written "for solo Instrument" and dated from "Composition 26B" written in 1974 to "Composition 118A" and "Composition 118F" written in 1982; three of the pieces, "Composition 99Q," "Composition 106R" and "Composition 118Q" do not appear in catalogs of Braxton compositions, so perhaps Braxton was trying them out. Thankfully, all the compositions here were titled using numbers and letters rather than the elaborate diagrams Braxton sometimes used to identify his compositions.

The album's sixteen tracks total sixty-one minutes, the shortest, "Naima," being two-and-a-half minutes long, the longest, "Composition 26B" just over five minutes. Such relative brevity means Braxton tends to concentrate on one mood or emotion in each piece rather than trying to cram too much in. He gives a virtuoso performance in every way possible—technical, emotional, and musical—one which leads to the conclusion that this album will be recognized as one of Braxton's best.

Track Listing

Composition 99B; Composition77H; Alone Together; Composition 170C; Composition 99Q; Composition 118F; Giant Steps; Composition 26B; Composition 77G; Composition 106R; Composition 106J; Composition 118Q; Composition 77D; Composition 118A; Naima; I Remember You.

Personnel

Anthony Braxton
woodwinds
Additional Instrumentation

Anthony Braxton: alto saxophone

Album information

Title: Solo Bern 1984 First Visit | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: ezz-thetics


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