Archive for the Anthony BRAXTON Category

Anthony BRAXTON – News From the 70s 2003

Posted in Anthony BRAXTON, JAZZ on November 25, 2010 by whoisthemonk

Anthony BRAXTON – News From the 70s 2003

Jazz

“News From The 70s” represents recently unearthed tapes found within the bowels of Mr. Braxton’s basement. The insightful liner notes written by Italian jazz luminary Francesco Martinelli, reveal the processes and criterion implemented for this project as Martinelli put the gears in motion along with Braxton’s assistance.
Anthony Braxton’s fertile 1970’s period quickly established this esteemed musician/composer as a genius. His linear and mathematically constructed compositions have been analyzed to death. Braxton has always aligned himself with the creme’ de la creme’ of modern jazz. Mere mortals may be incapable of performing his music yet, Braxton deserves much credit for being a purveyor of young talent as he helped wean and nurture the likes of John Lindberg (b), Ray Anderson (tb), George Lewis (tb), Barry Altschul (d) Kenny Wheeler (tp) and to some degree Dave Holland (b) and Chick Corea (p). Although Corea and Holland cut early roots with Miles, Braxton’s unique and startling conceptual approaches to modern jazz created quite a buzz in the early 70’s as musicians were eager to stretch their creative boundaries within Braxton’s multi-dimensional framework. Braxton’s musical brilliance is flat out awe-inspiring. On “News From The 70’s” we get an aural peek of selected Braxton compositions adhering to guidelines that suggests musical and historical relevance despite the sometimes less than perfect sound quality.

The first track, Braxton’s “Composition 23E” was recorded live in Holland on either May 16th or 17th as the liners state. Here, Braxton along with Kenny Wheeler (tp), Dave Holland (b) and Barry Altschul (d) are in top form complete with circular rhythmic development and classic dialogue between Braxton and Wheeler. On Braxton’s “Composition 8C”, Braxton performs solo alto sax. Nowhere to hide as Braxton churns out gorgeous sublime phrasing coupled with his now infamous vibrato techniques. The sound quality on this track is good. Braxton and Dave Holland team up as a duo on Braxton’s “Composition-1” which was recorded live at New York City’s Town Hall in 1971. Braxton and Holland are playful here and the composition for the most part is of an exploratory nature. Holland’s wonderful arco-bass technique shines, as Braxton intuitiveness is distinctly observable. “Composition –2 was recorded in France on December 7th 1973. Here, Braxton along with Wheeler team up with two French mainstream musicians; Antoine Duhamel, piano and Francois Mechali, double-bass. Mechali’s steady walking bass line underscores the complex unison lines between Wheeler and Braxton. Mid way through this piece Duhamel gives the band a well deserved breather with a mid-tempo piano solo that is loaded with block chords; however, it is evident that Duhamel seems tentative here and perhaps felt slightly at odds or uncomfortable within the modernistic environment of Braxton’s music. Braxton follows with a sopranino solo that gets the piece back on track as Wheeler displays marvelous technique and control with a sparkling trumpet solo. Kenny Wheeler maintains his deeply personalized sound even when he breaths fire as he seldom loses his signature style which often incorporates soul searching warmth and triumphant beauty. Braxton goes it alone again on “Composition 8g” recorded in France, 1971. On this piece, Braxton pulls out the stops as he honks, squeals and gets the most out of his alto sax. Here, Braxton exposes his inner self and one gets a strong sense that Braxton is conveying his immediate emotions and thoughts through his instrument; hence, Braxton’s alto acts like a translator of sorts.

The final track is Dave Holland’s “Four Winds” along with Braxton, George Lewis and Barry Altschul. Recorded in Austria 1976, this track was originally recorded on Holland’s ECM classic “Conference For The Birds”. Needless to say, this is a scorcher as trombonist George Lewis is especially amazing while performing at breakneck speed showing clear and concise phrasing, alluding to incredible control and discipline.

“News From The 70’s” is a welcome surprise and is a must for the Anthony Braxton completist and for those who may be too curious to let this one slip away. The sound quality is okay and holds up well considering that amateurs made the original tapes. Recommended.
By Glenn Astarita.
**
This compilation of recordings from 1972 to 1976 by Francesco Martinelli is an excellent starting point for orienting yourself within Braxton’s discography.
Composition 23E features Braxton’s quartet with Kenny Wheeler on the flugelhorn, Dave Holland on the bass and Barry Altschul on drums. Braxton’s solo is one of his best, a dizzying dance that should be accessible to anyone who loves post-bop jazz.
Composition 8C is a beautifully melodic alto solo that shows off Braxton’s tone. I think a lot of the negative reaction that people have to Braxton’s music has to do with the way he plays with the tone of the saxophone. His great early solo album, For Alto, was the result of his investigations into the basic grammer of what he calls his “saxophone languages”. For example, some of his pieces might be improvisations on the buzzing tone that the saxophone can produce. The fact that these efforts to exploit the full potential of the horn lead him away from traditional ideas on tone should not obscure the fact that he can play that way when he chooses. His playing on this composition is proof of that.
The third piece, Composition -1, dates from the great Town Hall concert that Braxton gave in 1972. It is a duet between him on clarinet with Dave Holland on the cello. Need I say more?
Compositon -2 is a recording of Braxton and Wheeler playing with French composer Antoine Duhamel on the piano and Francois Mechali on the bass. Duhamel playing on this piece is very intersting. I don’t know of any other published recordings of this particular quartet.
Composition 8G is the other alto solo. It is more out there then the 8C solo as it features Braxton exploring various different ways to articulate the notes. Still it strikes me as very accessible to anyone with open ears. If you find you like the solo pieces then, by all means, go on to For Alto or Wesleyan (12 Alto Solos) or Solo (Koln)1978. Anthony Braxton’s contributions to the emerging tradition of solo recordings by any and all horn types cannot be overstated. He started it, he inspired legions of others to do it and he continues to expand the possibilities.
The last piece, Four Winds, is by Dave Holland and was one of the highlights of Holland’s Conference of the Birds (another great intro for anybody curious about free jazz or out jazz or whatever you want to call it). This time the quartet of Braxton, Holland and Altschul is filled out by George Lewis on the trombone. Lewis is among the finest of the sidemen that ever worked with Braxton. These guys tear into this song and solo with wit, passion and every bit of skill they possess. If you like this quartet, I suggest you also try Quintet (Basel) 1977 where they are also joined by Muhal Richard Abrams.
Finally, a note on the sound- it is not of the best studio quality as these recordings were all done live and probably not with the best equipment. But it is good enough to enjoy the great burst of creative genius that Braxton was at the time.
Give this CD a listen. No one has done more to break down all the false hierarchies of music theory or performance in the last forty years in any genre of music than Anthony Braxton. If you want just one CD to put that statement to your own personal test, this one is as good as any.
By Greg Taylor
**
This rare collection of recordings from the 1970s features Braxton at the height of his power and makes an indispensable contribution to his discography. Personally selected by esteemed Italian musicologist Francesco Martinelli from long forgotten cassettes stored in the saxophonist’s home, these six tracks were not released commercially until 1999. While the sound quality is mixed, the music is some of Braxton’s best. There are two solo performances (“Composition 8G” and “Composition 8C”); three classic quartets (“Four Winds” with trombonist George Lewis, bassist Dave Holland, drummer Barry Altschul, and Braxton on sopranino, clarinet, and piccolo; “Composition 23E” and “Composition -2” with Kenny Wheeler on flugelhorn; and an impressive duo between Braxton on clarinet and Dave Holland on cello). Sparks fly throughout, as this collection enthralls with some of the best jazz of the era.
By Steve Loewy.
**
Anthony Braxton- (Sopranino & Alto Saxophone, Piccolo, Clarinet);
Kenny Wheeler- (Flugelhorn);
George Lewis- (Trombone);
Anthony Duhamel- (Piano);
Dave Holland- (Cello, Bass);
Francois Mechali- (Bass);
Barry Altschul- (Percussion).
**
01. Composition 23E (Gronigen, May 1974) (16:40)
Kenny Wheeler – Flugehorn
Anthony Braxton – Sopranino, Clarinet, Piccolo
Dave Holland – Bass
Barry Altschul – Percussion
02. Composition 8C (France, 1971) (8:40)
Anthony Braxton – Alto Sax
03. Composition -1 (NY, May 1972) (14:25)
Anthony Braxton – Clarinet
Dave Holland – Cello
04. Composition -2 (Nantes, 1973) (11:09)
Kenny Wheeler – Flugehorn
Anthony Braxton – Sopranino, Clarinet, Piccolo
Antoine Duhamel – Piano
François Mechali – Bass
05. Composition 8G (France, 1971) (7:59)
Anthony Braxton – Alto Sax
06. Four Winds (Graz, Austria, 1976) (15:42)
George Lewis – Trombone
Anthony Braxton – Sopranino, Clarinet, Piccolo
Dave Holland – Bass
Barry Altschul – Percussion
**

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