4

Anthony Braxton Quartet: (Willisau) 1991 Studio

Mark Corroto By

Sign in to view read count
Picture Miles Davis finishing a solo and stepping off the bandstand to smoke, while John Coltrane steps up to the microphone to play. I'll bet that never happened with the legendary Anthony Braxton Quartet (1985-1994). His quartet with pianist Marilyn Crispell, bassist Mark Dresser, and drummer Gerry Hemingway may be the best vehicle to appreciate Braxton's conceptions as they relate to the jazz tradition. That period was the turning point for Braxton. His hardscrabble existence ended as he was awarded a MacArthur Foundation grant in 1985, and he established a base as a professor of music at Wesleyan University. These changes have allowed him the freedom to expand his concepts and output without sacrificing a roof over his head.

Although we can't discount Braxton's more recent crop of cohorts that have included Mary Halvorson, Tomas Fujiwara, Taylor Ho Bynum, and  Ingrid Laubrock, this quartet may have been Braxton's finest assembly of improvisers, and each has gone on to become elder statesmen in jazz. Their exploits and beginnings were documented in a sort of travelogue book of interviews by Graham Lock, Forces In Motion: The Music And Thoughts Of Anthony Braxton (Da Capo, 1989).

Originally issued (now long out-of-print) as a four disc set, Willisau (Quartet) 1991 -Studio/Live (hatART, 1992), you guessed it, contained the quartet's studio, plus live June performances at Mohren in Willisau, Switzerland. This remastered edition separates sessions, and along with the two remastered (Santa Cruz) 1993 (Hatology, 2015) discs, reestablishes this quartet in a historical context. Recall that the 1991 Grammy Award for jazz winner was Oscar Peterson, which followed a string of conservative wins by the traditionalist Wynton Marsalis. Jazz as forward-thinking, creative music was struggling to find an audience. Okay, it has always struggled to find listeners, and Braxton's music is especially complex. These quartet sessions, like his Charlie Parker Project, are a great introduction to his concepts. Let's think of this band as the next progression of, say, John Coltrane's famous quartet. Braxton stretches jazz conventions (like Coltrane) with the full participation of his quartet. There is no hesitation by any member, and although there are solos, each becomes part of the whole, with all listening and contributing. If Braxton was (is) ahead of his time, journeying back to 1991 today might be about time.

Track Listing: CD 1: No.160 (+5) + 40J; No. 23M (+10 + 108D); No. 158 (+96) + 40L; No. 40A; No. 40B; CD 2: No. 161; No. 159; 23C + 32 + 105B (+30); 23M (+10 + 108D); No. 40M.

Personnel: Anthony Braxton: alto saxophone, clarinet, contrabass clarinet, flute, sopranino saxophone; Marilyn Crispell: piano; Mark Dresser: double bass; Gerry Hemingway: drums, marimba.

Title: (Willisau) 1991 Studio | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Hat Hut Records

About Anthony Braxton
Articles | Calendar | Discography | Photos | More...

Tags

Shop for Music

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

Related

Read Cobb's Pocket
Cobb's Pocket
By Dan Bilawsky
Read Blues For Charlie
Blues For Charlie
By Jim Worsley
Read Cobb's Pocket
Cobb's Pocket
By Nicholas F. Mondello
Read Cause and Effect
Cause and Effect
By Ian Patterson
Read Geschmacksarbeit
Geschmacksarbeit
By John Eyles
Read Emergence
Emergence
By Geannine Reid
Read Never More Here
Never More Here
By Dan McClenaghan
Read Lanzarote
Lanzarote
By Gareth Thompson