N508-10 (4G) - 4.32
J-572 (431)-I - 16.15
67M (F-12) - 5.17
ZMF (F-K) - 14.46
During a career that spans several decades, multi-instrumentalist and composer Anthony Braxton has been widely championed as one of the greats of avant-garde jazz, while others have been bewildered by his recordings. The Chicago native was a key contributor in the mid-1960s launch of the groundbreaking Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), while his compositions, often titled with unusual formula-like designation, incorporated elements of bop and free jazz, influenced by 20th century classical music. He formed the band Circle with Chick Corea, Dave Holland and Barry Altschul and has worked with various important figures in free jazz. Braxton is equally at home on various saxophones (including sopranino), clarinets, often using a mix of different instruments in a single piece. Braxton has also recorded with mainstream pianists like Dave Brubeck, Max Roach and Hank Jones.
Braxton begins the session on sopranino saxophone in “N508-10/(4G),” playing a wild duet with Chick Corea that finds them interweaving elements of accelerated Bud Powell-like bop and free music inspired by Braxton’s love of abstract 20th century composers, with Corea adding thunderous chords and delving into a hilarious form of stride altered to fit the avant-garde. Braxton pushes his instrument to its limits with his forceful playing, yet keeps the listener engaged with his inventive playing. “J-572/(431)-1” features Braxton on clarinet with trumpeter Kenny Wheeler, bassist Dave Holland and drummer Barry Altschul. The composer introduces the work with a mournful, ominous theme, backed initially by Altschul playing cymbals with mallets, with Wheeler’s muted trumpet and Holland’s eerie arco bass soon joining them. As the piece takes moves into free territory, it takes on the tension of a suspense film soundtrack, with Braxton switching between several different instruments and also overdubbing them together. “67M/F-12” is by the same quartet, maintaining a mood similar to the previous piece while maintaining a more consistent structure. But “ZMF (F-K)” is the masterpiece of this volume, featuring Braxton in a forward-thinking solo performance that overdubs multiple saxophones in a breath-taking extended exhibition of free jazz at its best.