Anthony Braxton: Search and Destroy

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I currently have four Braxton records on my shelf: _For Alto_ (fascinating solo saxophone screechery), _Creative Orchestra Music 1976_ (big-band improv bizarreness, including his famous marching-band piece, with a cast including Frederic Rzewski on the big bass drum), _Quartet (Birmingham) 1985_ (kickass small jazz group in top form), and _Composition No. 173 for 4 Actors, 14 Instrumentalists, Constructed Environment and Video Projections_ (which unlike the others I keep around because it's one of the strangest, most screwed-up, most conception-and-execution-light-centuries-apart albums I've ever heard).

There's a flood of Braxton in record stores, and I've heard enough half-assed stuff to be wary, but the good things are really really really good--what do I want to seek out?

Douglas, Sunday, 23 June 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Circle's Paris Concert is Braxton with Holland/Corea/Altschul playing a mix of compositions and free by all, plus "There Is No Greater Love" and an amazing version of "Nefertiti" from Miles' group. Dave Holland's Conference of the Birds is Holland/Rivers/Braxton/Altschul doing all Holland compositions, very deft mix of composed and free. The inscription from Holland on the Holland album (about the birds outside his apartment, and sharing their spirit of freedom blah blah blah) is better than the one from Corea on the Circle album (dubious metaphysics and sappy hallmarkisms together with imagistic lists: a bird, a rocket, a tree, a t iger, a sea, a child, a sand castle, a lover, an orange, a volcano, a wind, a mountain 'waiting' haha). But the liner notes to the Circle album have a picture of a bunch of people's butts, which to my knowledge Conference of the Birds does not have.

Josh, Sunday, 23 June 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Something about his damned tone has always put me off Braxton to an extent, but try and find "This Time" (BYG, 1969); recorded with Leroy Jenkins & Leo Smith and including various Paris '68 vox pop cut- ups/sound fx.

Not sure whether "The Montreux/Berlin Concerts" (Arista, 1977) is out on CD yet, but a superb overview of his mid-'70s quartet work; one and a half sides each for the Wheeler/Holland/Altschul and Lewis/Holland/Altschul quartets, plus an orchestral piece with the Berlin New Music Group and Braxton/Lewis as soloists. More passionate alto than you'll find in many of his other works.

The duo album with Max Roach which came out on Black Saint in '79 (sorry don't have it to hand right now so can't remember the title, but definitely out on CD) is also a good 'un.

Marcello Carlin, Monday, 24 June 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

"3 Compositions of New Jazz" is one of the few albums that I could never completely get through. It freaked me out and made me feel so uncomfortable. It makes "Impressions" or "Free Jazz" sound like The Beatles.

It scared me out of checking out anything else.

I did hear some Art Ensamble of Chicago music in a jazz history class that was interesting.

earlnash, Monday, 24 June 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

I only have Seven Standards 1985 Vol. 1 (not the exact title) which is really nice but probably not what you're looking for. I've always been curious about For Alto but I thought it was out of print.

Mark, Monday, 24 June 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

_For Alto_ got reissued by Delmark on CD a year or two ago...

Douglas, Monday, 24 June 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

For alto is the one that i started with as well. There's been a reissue on Leo of another solo sax recital (can't remember name).

I'd recommend the two alb on hatology. 'Quartet' and 'Quintet'. Try the BYG/actuel vinyl reissue: 'B-Xo/ N-O-1-47A'. The other side has a composition each by leo smith and leroy jenkins but braxton's piece is fucked up (a good thing).

Duos: Try the Anthony braxton/Derek bailey duo on emanem (first duo concert). Quite incredible. There's a nice duo with Marilyn Crispell on music and arts and on with bassist Peter niklas wilson on the same label though the derek bailey one is by some distance the pick of the three that I have so far.

'3 compositions for New jazz' is his debut as leader and so I will get that next.

Julio Desouza, Monday, 24 June 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Six Compositions: Quartet from 1981 and Five Compositions (Quartet) 1986 are as fine a pair of Braxton records as I know of, and they show the marvelous evolution of his small ensemble work over the course of an incredibly productive decade.

o. nate, Monday, 24 June 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

this could be a really big topic if that many people were interested - - the amount of material braxton has produced almost suggests its own dedicated bulletin board or newsgroup (and has covered him well over the years)

now there's even an opera in english that includes characters from comp. 173, which you might be interested in Douglas

but then there's all the recently documented duo stuff from the nineties and the re-issues of some '70s and '80s stuff plus updates and eventual retirement of the long-standing quartet and then the longer standing quartet/quintet form braxton

then there's the controversial "7 or 14 year plan" ghost trance music of recent times as well as peculiar archival appearances with Teitelbaum or on BMG or the much missed/needed (where are they?) gap- filling Arista re-issues -- the circle document valuably catches a unique meeting of minds before corea converted to scientology, well recorded and featuring brax mainly doing others songs -- it's a typically weirdo drop in the ocean that lot's of people own because it was on ECM and picked up fans of various musos -- that was a year long group with little recording -- it's fair to say that the unique line-up surprise appearance odd one-off release type documents started appearing at relatively exponential rate after that

.. the list goes on and on

a related problem in discussing any of these works is the need for constant recourse to the limited web sites from which picture files can be borrowed to properly present the grahical titles -- braxton has also often included the "jazz sleevenote" as part of the musical equation which whether you like that or not is part of the fun

for me the whole has been greater than the sum of the parts, even though i'm in no position to claim sufficient advancement in the braxton continuum to claim competence in a search/destroy exercise -- i've seen some attempted and such summary "career" assessments often appear glib when set aside all the music, let alone this other peripheral (?) material (graphics, sleevenotes, his "composition notes" books, books on his "composition notes" ..) and set against a non-rockist career strategy itself complicated by various major label PR-ish attempts at definition (itself documented in a book attempting to find a place for braxton as a cultural figure in the usa, or to identify it, based on the wynton marselis style marketing of brax by arista, but marketing without any of the naysaying reductionist bullshit from the "composer" as in the latter dumbed down '80s jazz marketing angle)

Douglas, you've heard some "half-assed" stuff -- to me, documentation has become such a peculiar side-effect of braxton's methods that the piles of cds are inevitable and perhaps with the McArthur award might eventually all end up in the library, which is probably where braxton would like them to turn up -- in '84 he claimed that he wanted to release more records than anyone else and at that stage he noted steve lacy was in the lead (jazz area anyway) -- now he's clearly in the lead -- haino's pace has eased off (braxton's five year = haino's 3 year output) at the moment but haino is losing and that's not taking into account pre-haino braxton numbers that were higher in previous years

just personally i could do with less ghost-trance (or "i don't get it") and less convenient Mills College stuff

one useful rule of thumb -- you visit ten people who own braxton records and seven of them will have one unique record (at least) -- take your time

George Gosset, Tuesday, 25 June 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

oh, i'd second Julio's ideas about 'B-Xo/ N-O-1-47A' which you can still only get in it's entirety on vinyl, but it's worth it, and one of my long-time favourites (for what its worth) -- a good document of the humour inherent in braxton music at a raw level in his developing career ('69?)

George Gosset, Tuesday, 25 June 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

''Douglas, you've heard some "half-assed" stuff -- to me, documentation has become such a peculiar side-effect of braxton's methods that the piles of cds are inevitable and perhaps with the McArthur award might eventually all end up in the library, which is probably where braxton would like them to turn up -- in '84 he claimed that he wanted to release more records than anyone else and at that stage he noted steve lacy was in the lead (jazz area anyway) - - now he's clearly in the lead -- haino's pace has eased off (braxton's five year = haino's 3 year output) at the moment but haino is losing and that's not taking into account pre-haino braxton numbers that were higher in previous years''

Yeah, impossible to keep up with either unless you have deep pockets or work in a radio station with an adventurous music policy, I suppose. It will take a long time (prob a long time after he goes) for ppl at large to truly appreciate Anthony Braxton (kinda like bach).

Surely derek bailey is in the running here too George.

I only have abt 8 braxton alb. and so far most are rewarding listens. Some take more time than others.

Braxton is unique and he has done so much really. George, what do you think of his piano playing, can you recommend anything from there?

Julio Desouza, Tuesday, 25 June 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

oh piano braxton? i just can't get into those old "standards" which braxton lovingly sticks to, songs of his youth ... (cf: his own compositions which require a more acute pianist)

so i can do "All the things you are" (ie remember the head and find it interesting) which brax has covered usually sax admittedly throughout his career but

no, i don't know the tunes so i don't get the "our version of this standard" thing, that Marsh/Desmond/'Trane thing he's coming from in his approach to standards on sax or piano but since piano is a relatively new indulgence especially his piano versions

that he sticks to old folks at home stuff on piano marks that stuff out as pretty trivial in the greater scheme of things -- his piano covers of standards did not make him famous, and if he prefers Crispell, Oppens, Rzewski, Rosenbloom etc for his _real_ music then that's all the caveat i need

however his horn band work on tribute album music of charlie parker, t monk, tristano/marsh and andrew hill have all been pretty hoony, and it's agreed amoungst jazz beaus of my acquaintance that whereas he respectfully held back on tristano/marsh, his tribute band did up the ante with the parker material (double cd on Hat -- well worth it, good entry to parker/bop even)

George Gosset, Tuesday, 25 June 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

Thanks george!

Julio Desouza, Tuesday, 25 June 2002 00:00 (eighteen years ago) link

two months pass...
I got the solo saxophone rec I was talking abt which has been reissued on Leo. Its called Solo (Koln) 1978. It's 79 minutes of a man doing things with his saxophone 20 odd years ago and it still sound likes music for the future. Get it ppl, it's worth it!

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Thursday, 5 September 2002 10:00 (seventeen years ago) link

"greater scheme of things" = pretending history doesn't apply to you

mark s (mark s), Thursday, 5 September 2002 10:03 (seventeen years ago) link

"eugene" is good - it's either on soul note or black saint reckids kinda a big band thing. the very very best thing i have w/ braxton on it, though, is an old vinyl on sackville of duets with roscoe mitchell, which is basically the two of them making comedy noises on bass sarussophones and the like or doing hammer horror "voodoo" soundtracks on flutes - that and some rockin good tunes. i love this one so much i'll tape it for ye if ye like the sound of the sound of it

bob snoom, Thursday, 5 September 2002 10:06 (seventeen years ago) link

what abt you mark? do you like any of his piano music?

''i love this one so much i'll tape it for ye if ye like the sound of the sound of it''

I'll try and find this (i might have seen it). if not then if you could tape it it would be great.

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Thursday, 5 September 2002 10:10 (seventeen years ago) link

Braxton is always talked abt as serious but there is a quite a few laughs and that isn't talked abt (though i haven't read much on him apart from rec reviews).

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Thursday, 5 September 2002 10:13 (seventeen years ago) link

i keep meaning to put my braxton piece that i did for his festschrift up on stone lanes

mark s (mark s), Thursday, 5 September 2002 10:21 (seventeen years ago) link

"unbreak my heart" was a bit mushy.

michael w., Thursday, 5 September 2002 10:53 (seventeen years ago) link

My first post, and odd that it starts with Braxton, rather than, let's say, The Fall.
Some favorites:

For Alto (Delmark)
Duets 1976 w/Muhal Richard Abrams (Arista)
Company 2 w/Evan Parker & Derek Bailey (Incus)
Donaoeschingen 1976 w/George Lewis (hatART)
For Trio (Arista)
One in Two/Two in One w/Max Roach (Hat Hut)
Moments Precieux w/Derek Bailey (Victo)
Willisau 1991 (hatART)

I also enjoy most of the BYG recordings and the 'Circle" -era band, but i must confess, aside from a few duet recordings, the last 10 years of Braxtonia have left me a bit flat

billyboy, Friday, 13 September 2002 00:42 (seventeen years ago) link

six months pass...
hey douglas if you still want any recommendations: I found '19 solo compostions' yesterday on new albion (half price).

Braxton is on Alto, most tracks are short (3-4 mins) and its a bunch of marvellous short blasts of intensity.

Braxton and cecil get a lot of respect I think bcz they can maintain intensity for long periods of time without boring you to sleep but here braxton shortens this intensity out and the results are really fucking marvellous.

As good as 'for alto' or 'solo (koln)'.

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Sunday, 16 March 2003 13:50 (seventeen years ago) link

Braxton taught at my school and a number of friends/acquaintances took his classes with greater and lesser levels of personal devotion to the man (v. eccentric presence on campus). I was shown some of his theories of jazz history, v. schematic with circles and triangles etc. representing phases of musical development. It appeared to me to be half-guff (b.s.) if not more than that; I was always concerned that people who didn't seem to understand a word of what he said were nonetheless "subscribers" to his theories. That said I'm open to the possibility that he is a perceptive critic/theorist and just too abstruse for most people.

Amateurist (amateurist), Sunday, 16 March 2003 20:24 (seventeen years ago) link

''(v. eccentric presence on campus).''

i can only imagine...

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Sunday, 16 March 2003 20:27 (seventeen years ago) link

Composition No. 96 for full orchestra! Leo Records.

pre-composed modules for varying numbers of players, all breaking into larger/smaller numbers of players, improvised conduction. Comes on like a mess and then really begins tormenting you as you begin to hear the structures sliding around in there... the textures are boggling.

Thanks for the other tips on this thread, I've been meaning to buy more but indeed have been intimidated by the sheer volume.

jl, Monday, 17 March 2003 21:00 (seventeen years ago) link

the composition for two pianos is's got frederick rzewski and some woman playing the pianos (and melodicas). the picture on the back is funny cause they are dressed in these medieval robes. it's silly.

j fail (cenotaph), Monday, 17 March 2003 21:07 (seventeen years ago) link

He's a classic. I've got all his records up through the mid-80's, save for the one he did for Futura (can't seem to find that bugger for a reasonable price). I wish he'd play Chicago sometime but I guess he's got some kind of hang-up about coming here. I've still never seen him play except for one solo he took as part of an AACM big band at the Chicago Jazz Fest! He was supposed to play the AACM 30th anniversary festival in the mid-90's and he never showed up! What a wierdo.

Anyway, his records are great bounties of imaginative thinking. I've still not heard any of his piano records. I'd be interested in opinions from anyone whose heard him (George's comments up thread were not particularly helpful).

Mr. Diamond (diamond), Monday, 17 March 2003 21:28 (seventeen years ago) link

Man, I must be on drugs. "anyone who's heard them".

Mr. Diamond (diamond), Monday, 17 March 2003 21:29 (seventeen years ago) link

he basically doesn't rate braxton on piano BUT I'd def like to hear an arg for it (and a recommendation).

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Monday, 17 March 2003 21:42 (seventeen years ago) link

one year passes...
Leo has issued a new, limited edition (1000 copies), 4-CD collection of 23 standards performed by Anthony Braxton. I am tempted to get it just because it all seems so crazy, although there's a good chance I won't like it.

Rockist Scientist, Friday, 16 July 2004 17:06 (sixteen years ago) link

Oh, and I have nothing on CD by him. (One or two things on vinyl I bought a long, long time ago, one a two record set of solo pieces that I can live with.)

Rockist Scientist, Friday, 16 July 2004 17:07 (sixteen years ago) link

Here. It just seems funny to put out this massive 4-CD project in an edition of 1000, but I guess from a small label point of view, it isn't so funny.

Rockist Scientist, Friday, 16 July 2004 17:11 (sixteen years ago) link

i really like five pieces (1975) - its 3/4 of the conference of the birds quartet (holland altschul and braxton) with kenny wheeler. its lyrical in this way similar to conference, but is all but one braxton compositions, so theyre a little more jarring...

also time zones with richard teitelbaum. explores some of the reallllllllly deep throaty tones (blurts and barks) of braxton while this weirdo goes wild with moog washes.

peter smith (plsmith), Friday, 16 July 2004 17:16 (sixteen years ago) link

those songs aren't part of my musical history.

I've never heard them anywhere else. If he could take current pop songs, bebob them or convert them in some other way, well i think that would be easier for a larger audience to enjoy.

ok current pop music doesn't have that before and after the beat semi-in-determinent 'swing' of old _jazz_ standards (cf: appropriations from pop).
Marches are easy to take the piss out of i suspect, they're more music from the past (and only irrelevently included in the present eg Buck. UK etc.) and they have _no_ swing to start with.

i've tried to listen to people like bing crosby or whoever doing the original song, but that music has a almost-metronomic set 'swing' to me, like old hymns, commercial (Brill ?)
my parents have enjoyed jazz covers (eg stefan grapelli) but they found bebob was hot and heavy and for them, it was brax who was too 'square looking', in their case by virtue of the orderly-slanted dissonance.

george gosset (gegoss), Friday, 16 July 2004 20:52 (sixteen years ago) link

they [ my parents] found bebob was hot and heavy and for them

was meant to read

they [my parents] found bepob was too hot and heavy and not for them

george gosset (gegoss), Saturday, 17 July 2004 01:03 (sixteen years ago) link

I love his Eight (+3) Tristano Compisitions 1989 For Warne Marsh.

A lovely essay in there dedicated to Warne Marsh.

And on the subject of Mr Marsh , the 2 CD Warne Marsh/Sal Mosca Quartet live recordings from 1992 are well worth a listen.

mentalist (mentalist), Saturday, 17 July 2004 03:13 (sixteen years ago) link

three months pass...
George, or anyone, I'm interested in whether you actually understand his graphic scores and "Composition Notes". The scores are intriguing, and the music I've heard sounds good but I find his writing so wilfully dense that I'm unable to understand how the scores and compositional systems actually work.

sundar subramanian (sundar), Wednesday, 20 October 2004 19:02 (fifteen years ago) link

hmm...have you thought about writing to him? or getting some contact info?

Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Thursday, 21 October 2004 07:20 (fifteen years ago) link

two months pass...
The new issue of The Wire has Anthony Braxton on the front cover.

DJ Martian (djmartian), Wednesday, 19 January 2005 14:08 (fifteen years ago) link

I've heard a lot of it. It's of course dumb to say this but I say it anyway, he's sorta stiff somehow in the swing department. I like his "In the Tradition" records OK from the '70s. But I like him and I do think he's got a sense of humor. Still, I'm rather old-fashioned these days about jazz, I'd rather hear Ben Webster or someone.

eddie hurt (ddduncan), Wednesday, 19 January 2005 17:47 (fifteen years ago) link

My favorite Braxton is Quartet (London) 1985 on Leo; Marilyn Crispell is especially sympathetic to Braxton's mein and strictures, she's a more buoyant version of Cecil Taylor. There are other examples of Crispell/Braxton, but I think Mark Dresser adds a lot in this instance. I forget who plays drums, but the drumming is great as well. I also love 3 Compositions of New Jazz, but more for its "statement of purpose" quality then anything.

mcd (mcd), Wednesday, 19 January 2005 19:18 (fifteen years ago) link

Sundar, if you have questions maybe I could help some? I don't know everything and haven't heard every single recording, but I took lessons with Braxton and sat in seminars and made him explain about every other sentence.

charlie va (charlie va), Thursday, 20 January 2005 03:35 (fifteen years ago) link

I also have a lot of experience playing and conducting his music, but it's still pretty amazing how much I don't know.

charlie va (charlie va), Thursday, 20 January 2005 03:37 (fifteen years ago) link

Charlie, i'm curious,
how did actually having things explained change/ stimulate your perception of the music ?

i've read about composed bits designed to sound like improv and vice versa, various spaces for improvisation. I like the idea of not being able to tell composed from improv (particularly, i wish completely improvised stuff was _not_ explained to the degree of being labelled as completely improvised, as it gives the game away sometimes)

i find it easier to make the leap of understanding with braxton's later compositions which come with more colourful and expansive drawings and sometimes even short sci-fi stories. I imagine the drawings collapse some aspects of what i presume the graphic scores contain, whilst including some metaphor or other 'clues'.

(i think i've heard the 'quick succession of equally timed and spaced notes' strategy too often in his music cf: other systems)

george gosset (gegoss), Friday, 28 January 2005 14:13 (fifteen years ago) link

I have tried to get into Braxton, buying Three Compositions... and both reissued BYG discs, and I reviewed a recent Ghost Trance quartet disc on Delmark pretty favorably, but only one of his albums is a keeper in my house: Quintet (Basel) 1977 on Hatology, with George Lewis on trombone, Muhal Richard Abrams on piano, Mark Helias on bass and Charles "Bobo" Shaw on drums. It swings really hard, but there's plenty of squeaky cartoon-ducks-arguing stuff, too.

pdf (Phil Freeman), Friday, 28 January 2005 15:38 (fifteen years ago) link

Search: Willisau Quartet. Uh huh.

Salvador Saca (Mr. Xolotl), Friday, 28 January 2005 19:03 (fifteen years ago) link

I have been - it's just about impossible to find - unless you want to pay exorbitant prices.

o. nate (onate), Friday, 28 January 2005 19:10 (fifteen years ago) link

Apparently it has been rumored that hatART is going to be re-issuing it, but currently it seems like the only way to get it is to pay $100+ on Ebay.

o. nate (onate), Friday, 28 January 2005 19:16 (fifteen years ago) link

see for example:

o. nate (onate), Friday, 28 January 2005 19:23 (fifteen years ago) link

Yeah, it's criminal that that is out of print. I remember seeing it on some list of upcoming reissues over a year ago, but it never materialized. I don't get it. What the fuck is up with Hat Art? They're sitting on tons of stuff that they let go in and out of print seemingly at random. And I can never keep track of the sub-labels and all that, Hatology, Hat Noir, etc. They should just sell the catalog to someone who will take care of it.

Stormy Davis (diamond), Friday, 28 January 2005 19:29 (fifteen years ago) link

o. nate, did you find the folder?

Salvador Saca (Mr. Xolotl), Monday, 21 March 2005 16:33 (fifteen years ago) link

No, couldn't find it.

o. nate (onate), Monday, 21 March 2005 16:43 (fifteen years ago) link

Weird, man. Do you have AIM? I could send it thru there. My screen name is Mr Xolotl

Salvador Saca (Mr. Xolotl), Monday, 21 March 2005 16:55 (fifteen years ago) link

That's very kind of you to offer. I'm not at home right now, but when I'll look for you on AIM when I'm there. My screen name is onate879.

o. nate (onate), Monday, 21 March 2005 20:07 (fifteen years ago) link

Hey nate, out of curiousity, what were the other 9 that they recommended? I was thinking of picking that issue up actually but I never did; I haven't bought an issue of Wire since the Haino cover back in like 2002, but if anything would pique my curiousity it would be the Braxburger.

Stormy Davis (diamond), Monday, 21 March 2005 20:18 (fifteen years ago) link

The Wire list is:

Three Compositions of New Jazz/For Alto
Solo (Milano)
Quartet (Coventry)
Six Monk's Compositions
Four (Ensemble) Compositions
Duo (London)
Charlie Parker Project 1993
Knitting Factory (Piano/Quartet)
Sextet (Istanbul) 1995

Let me add some love for the Wadada Leo Smith/Anthony Braxton duo on Pi Saturn, Conjunct the Grand Canyon in a Sweet Embrace. It is a conversation between two massive souls, rivals Ornette/Cherry for cosmic connection. Some really nice moments.

And since I posted my love for Quartet (London) 1985 above, I picked up (Coventry). The interviews are great and the playing is better than on the London disc, if that is possible. It all feels less confined. Anyway from what I've heard, these two are my favorite Braxton band.

A lot of those Leo's are really good. Some faves are the duo with Evan Parker, the duo with Abraham Adzinyah (sort of a Hamid Drake-like drummer, hadn't heard of him before), and Composition No. 94 For Three Instrumentalists (1980). It's easy to listen to this stuff for days since everything is long and packed with ideas. Sometimes it can be overwhelming but there's always something new around every corner. I do see the humor in some of this stuff, but I always get the sense that Braxton is concentrating very hard.

mcd (mcd), Tuesday, 22 March 2005 03:42 (fifteen years ago) link

Strangely enough, earlier today I just stumbled across this two hour long lecture by Braxton from 1985. I've only listened to the first hour so far, but it's pretty interesting stuff.

Jeff LeVine (Jeff LeVine), Tuesday, 22 March 2005 07:35 (fifteen years ago) link

one year passes...
is there anything by Braxton that resembles his duet with Wolf Eyes, be it just remotely?

rizzx (Rizz), Friday, 4 August 2006 21:34 (fourteen years ago) link

I admit to no close reading of this thread, but was surprised no one mentioned the Dortmund Quartet from 76 w/George Lewis. That and Conference of the Birds are two of my favorite small group Jazz recordings.

I have fond memories of Eugene but haven't heard it in years.

EZ Snappin (EZSnappin), Friday, 4 August 2006 23:14 (fourteen years ago) link

wrong - you had to answer my question

rizzx (Rizz), Saturday, 5 August 2006 09:48 (fourteen years ago) link

wrong - you had to answer my question


Rockist_Scientist (RSLaRue), Saturday, 5 August 2006 11:10 (fourteen years ago) link

no! oh!

rizzx (Rizz), Saturday, 5 August 2006 12:12 (fourteen years ago) link

I'm not going to answer your question either, but I will second the Dortmund recommendation.

Whitman Mayonnaise (Rock Hardy), Saturday, 5 August 2006 12:58 (fourteen years ago) link

how cruel

rizzx (Rizz), Saturday, 5 August 2006 14:09 (fourteen years ago) link

is there anything by Braxton that resembles his duet with Wolf Eyes, be it just remotely?

In the "just remotely" category, maybe some of the duet/trio pieces with synthesist Richard Teitelbaum, touched upon upthread?

mark 0 (mark 0), Saturday, 5 August 2006 14:39 (fourteen years ago) link

great, thanks. I'm a Braxton noob, just checked out For Alto and whoa damn. That's an awesome record. I think i need it all but thanks for the tip!

rizzx (Rizz), Saturday, 5 August 2006 16:27 (fourteen years ago) link

eleven months pass...

there's no tyondai braxton thread (his son) so here:

sanskrit, Wednesday, 11 July 2007 16:06 (thirteen years ago) link

one year passes...

Lolz that's terrific.

The Arista records were given a re-issue on Mosaic. Got three on LP from the years of looking at 2nd hand shops: For Trio, Duets '76 and Alto '79. The former especially has become one of my very faves, of only a handful I have from his massive discog.

Not really going to get this boxset but I was wondering about For Four Orchestras. Like how does it compare to Gruppen, for example?

Read an article or two about his time there. Seems really amazing in retrospect how they issued the guy's work for five years, obv orchestral music still gets funding from a variety of resources/foundations that support classical music but how could someone from a jazz background even begin to think of getting a project that functions in that grey area between jazz and classical funded?

xyzzzz__, Wednesday, 19 November 2008 19:50 (eleven years ago) link

one year passes...

Bit late in answering that but what the heck. The thing is, at the time Braxton's signing to Arista made good commercial sense for Arista. Record sales were booming, even sales of jazz records were booming. He was a marketable commodity and Arista made great play out of him in their advertising campaigns. The first few records he did for them were profitable. When he finally got dropped it wasn't because he was failing them in particular. The bottom fell out of the jazz market in general.

anagram, Sunday, 10 January 2010 09:59 (ten years ago) link

four years pass...

What exactly is "forward space"? Is he talking about, say, a 'living' improvisational "canvas" that is always changing based on performers/context? Is it easier to define it in terms of what it is not?

brimstead, Tuesday, 1 July 2014 22:27 (six years ago) link

three months pass...


I dunno. (amateurist), Friday, 3 October 2014 07:23 (five years ago) link

I've given up trying to parse Braxton's theories, I just listen to the music.

goth colouring book (anagram), Friday, 3 October 2014 08:35 (five years ago) link

Just saw your ans to my little qn anagram. tx.

xyzzzz__, Friday, 3 October 2014 08:44 (five years ago) link

I've given up trying to parse Braxton's theories, I just listen to the music.

― goth colouring book (anagram), Friday, October 3, 2014 3:35 AM (3 days ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

i think this is the best answer! i love so much of his music, but i'm still of the mind that a lot of his theorizing is just bull.

I dunno. (amateurist), Monday, 6 October 2014 20:28 (five years ago) link

I saw him give a lecture/overview of his systems/work, and it suddenly dawned on me that many of his theories just obfuscated the obvious. "Pulse-track logics"? Metric time.

I mean, it works for him, and he seems to get as much (or more) enjoyment out of developing his systems/theories as he does attempting to realize them, so more power to him. I don't think it's bullshit -- he's sincere about it, and I don't think he's doing it as a put-on. But so much of it strikes me as the compositional equivalent of driving from Chicago to Milwaukee via Seattle and Phoenix: yeah, you eventually get where you're going, but you made the journey needlessly burdensome and complicated.

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Monday, 6 October 2014 20:40 (five years ago) link

Its definitely not bullshit, but I also often think its simply the way he expresses himself, so what appears to be "needlessly burdensome and complicated" to some is actually a simple A --> B for him. If you don't care to do the work, or you don't have the time then its fine - but that doesn't mean you simply dismiss it as the charlatan side to him.

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 7 October 2014 10:40 (five years ago) link

That's what I was saying; whatever works for him, cool. I wasn't dismissing his methods (though I have noticed a tendency among some critics to become dazzled by the complicated nature of his systems at the expense of any discussion -- or criticism -- of his actual music).

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Tuesday, 7 October 2014 13:28 (five years ago) link

three years pass...

anthony braxton - robert schumann quartet

wonderful, thanks massaman gai for another invaluable tip

j., Friday, 5 October 2018 01:29 (one year ago) link

been spinning "echo echo mirror house" recently as well, which is a challenge cos one long track & people want to watch spiderman on a regular basis in this room. was initially put off by "playing along to ipod collage" aspect but dang if this aint musically cohesive dense & flipin brilliant.

massaman gai, Friday, 5 October 2018 12:01 (one year ago) link

will have to check that schumann quartet one out at some point, the last Braxton I listened to was a fab 70's live duo set with George Lewis which goes from the sublime to the quackers!

calzino, Friday, 5 October 2018 12:25 (one year ago) link

"The duo album with Max Roach which came out on Black Saint in '79 (sorry don't have it to hand right now so can't remember the title, but definitely out on CD) is also a good 'un."

replying to an ancient Marcello post - it's called Birth and Rebirth and it is indeed a good 'un!

calzino, Saturday, 6 October 2018 12:33 (one year ago) link

three months pass...

sometimes in composition no. 254 they sound like they're singing radio station IDs

j., Sunday, 13 January 2019 05:00 (one year ago) link

nine months pass...

Be advised that the Braxton Composer Portrait show at the Miller Center 9/25/19 with Either/Or and JACK Quartet is on surreptitious sharing services and it's a decent recording of a great show

Brakhage, Saturday, 19 October 2019 18:36 (nine months ago) link

There's video of a Stockhausen-scale Braxtonathon in Berlin, looks like a great time was had by all

Brakhage, Sunday, 3 November 2019 17:46 (nine months ago) link

three months pass...

I'd never previously really connected with the man's music, but on a whim the other day I rescued Sextet (Victoriaville) 2005 from the dollar CD bin and I'm really enjoying it. It's a far cry from the brainy and occasionally bloodless music I (perhaps naively) dismissed many years ago. Turns out I may be a fan of Braxton's "ghost trance" era (despite having very little idea what that is in concept). Thinking I should hear more of his later material. Any suggestions?

Paul Ponzi, Saturday, 15 February 2020 14:17 (five months ago) link

A friend of mine walked out of his last gig in London! So he's still provocative at least.

Load up your rubber wallets (Tom D.), Saturday, 15 February 2020 14:23 (five months ago) link

Any suggestions?

I remember liking Four Compositions (GTM) 2000, which is on Delmark, quite a bit at the time and, like you, being surprised by how entertaining and fun it was.

but also fuck you (unperson), Saturday, 15 February 2020 14:33 (five months ago) link

Thanks! That's the next one I'll check out. I feel like I'm about to enter a Braxton phase.

Paul Ponzi, Saturday, 15 February 2020 14:42 (five months ago) link

Quartet (GTM) 2006 on Important is also a good one from that era.

Also, not Ghost Trance era but if you're unfamiliar with Braxton's 1980s quartet with Marilyn Crispell, Gerry Hemingway and Mark Dresser, check out the Leo Records releases from London and Coventry.

van dyke parks generator (anagram), Saturday, 15 February 2020 15:07 (five months ago) link

i don't know if it's easy find these days, but graham lock's book forces in motion is a very readable account of that quartet's UK tour in 1985 (lock travelled with them) and also an introduction to braxton's work as a whole, which i think generally squishes the "brainy yet bloodless" perception -- a lot of it is pretty funny as i recall (often at lock's expense).

mark s, Saturday, 15 February 2020 15:21 (five months ago) link

^^^apparently an updated edition from a couple of years back

mark s, Saturday, 15 February 2020 15:22 (five months ago) link

Just found the Lock book for $9 with free shipping, so that's on its way here now.

That Important set looks great, but I may wait a bit before pulling the trigger on a box set.

I see that the Coventry disc (whose reputation precedes it, iirc) was released in full and also in a single-disc version (which of course is less expensive). I may grab the abridged version for now.

Thanks for all the helpful suggestions!

Paul Ponzi, Saturday, 15 February 2020 15:27 (five months ago) link

The Lock book is fucking fantastic (reissued last year). It absolutely cracked Braxton's music open for me, just because learning about him as a human being - his weird sense of humor and personality quirks - allowed me to think about what I was hearing in a completely different way.

but also fuck you (unperson), Saturday, 15 February 2020 15:49 (five months ago) link

Braxton's 1980s quartet with Marilyn Crispell, Gerry Hemingway and Mark Dresser

^^^I love this group so much but have had mixed feeling any time I've tried to venture further into Braxton's catalog. Willisau (Quartet) 1991 is probably my favorite but generally just really enjoy everything they did.

cwkiii, Sunday, 16 February 2020 03:18 (five months ago) link

^^^ thread revive prompted me to put Willisau on tonight

Miami weisse (WmC), Sunday, 16 February 2020 04:02 (five months ago) link

four months pass...

always preferred the small group stuff before but duos are really working for me atm - recently released one with harpist jacqueline kerrod is great, as are the ones with miya masaoka, fred frith, derek bailey (who I don’t always love), max roach, richard teitelbaum, doubtless plenty more I haven’t heard yet

I feel like his larger scale long form compositions deserve more attention than they get, but they can be intimidating. what I’ve heard from the iridium set is great

it’s pretty shitty the treatment (or lack thereof) he’s received from classical gatekeepers- ditto for bill dixon, cecil taylor, ornette & others - for which i can think of reasons. some of the orchestral stuff I’ve heard could have been better performed/conducted/recorded. he has a right to be bitter about boulez and fucking zappa

the standards are enjoyable enough but don’t blow my mind like some of his other stuff does. maybe they’re not supposed to. idc about “not swinging” or “getting the changes wrong” as some jazz nerds complain but his playing is much more exciting elsewhere imo

three weeks pass...

Listening to the new Thumbscrew record and got the idea of cross-referencing his discography for multiple interpretations of the same composition...I'm guessing the below is the best resource for that? sadly outdated...

cwkiii, Friday, 31 July 2020 13:30 (one week ago) link

ah.. thanks for the new Thumbscrew album alert, this sounds ace.

calzino, Friday, 31 July 2020 14:10 (one week ago) link

Listening to the two duo albums Braxton recorded with Wadada Leo Smith live at Tonic in 2002/2003, Organic Resonance and Saturn, Conjunct the Grand Canyon in a Sweet Embrace.

but also fuck you (unperson), Friday, 31 July 2020 14:30 (one week ago) link

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