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Monday, May 11, 2009

Anthony Braxton & Kyle Brenders - Toronto (Duets) 2007 (Barnyard Records, 2009) ****

Real Braxton fans may not like this, but I think he's at his best when he doesn't compose, but just improvises. His compositions are often emotionally distant, intellectual exercises in form - open, repetitive, with ever changing patterns - but once he starts improvising ,the distance disappears and the soul enters. It's hard to describe, but that's how I experience it. It's the same on this double CD with two lengthy duets with Canadian saxophonist Kyle Brenders. Anthony Braxton plays soprano, sopranino and alto, while Kyle Brenders plays clarinet, soprano and tenor. But don't get me wrong. The composed parts, which are interspersed throughout the piece, work as great reference points, light-footed, minimalistic and odd, serving as the basis for the improvisations, and like little islands they can move back to after swimming in the improvised parts. Yet the real musical creativity is to be found in the improvisations, tonal excursions, rhythmic contrasts, nervous repetitive phrasing, staccato bird-like chattering contrasting with droning circular breathing, ... but whatever it is, the end result is one of disciplined freedom or freedom through discipline. With an emotional component in the improvisations. The premeditated intellectual aspect of composition, structure and mutual discussion enables the musicians to go beyond any on the spot improvisation. It opens new doors and musical opportunities. Two long pieces. Not much can be said about them. Just listen to the notes themselves.

Listen to an excerpt from "Composition 199" (selected for a transition from improvisation back to a composed piece after about 14 minutes into the first track)

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© stef


Anonymous said...

Hi Stef,
I agree w/ you 100%. Braxton is at his best when improvising. Simply amazing and firing on all cylinders. Just like his recent album w/ Graves and Parker Beyond Quantum(1 of my favorite recordings of him in years). I look forward to hearing this album. I just ordered the new Peter Evans album on Psi and as long as I was ordering over seas I also ordered the Evan Parker and George Lewis album From Saxophones and Trombones. I am really looking forward to hearing both(the Evans album sounded great in your review/sample.have been following some of his other projects).
I really love the new women of improvised music thing you have going on and especially seeing Satoko Fujii right on top. She is one of my favorite artists. I just got turned on to her a few years ago, but every album I get from one of her many projects just adds to my astonishment of this truly unique artist and her vision.
Stef keep up the good fight brother . I love your blog. truly great to see and talk with other folks who love this truly great music.

Anonymous said...

Excellent review,but this was released in 2008;have been listening to this one for many months,and to my,much-attuned Braxton-ears this is VERY much about composition.The difference between CD-1- Comp 199 is absolutely worlds apart from Disc 2-Comp 356.Yes,the lengthy improvs are excellent,but don't be so quick to make such distinctions even if it suits your listening pleasures.He's quite difficult to keep pace with;"composed"/"improv".Spent about 40 years w/this guy,and when you boil it all down:composed/improvisation:HEAR IT ALL FIRST(IF POSSIBLE),and don't make such "silly" "distinctions",and I'm just jiving w/you(basically).To quote that sage,Bob Dylan:"It's All Good"

Anonymous said...

*** "I really love the new women of improvised music" jeff

then check out a TRUE Braxton' MASTERPIECE-

Anthony Braxton
Quartet(Moscow) 2008 (Leo)

Personnel: Anthony Braxton: sopranino, soprano and alto saxophones, contrabass clarinet; Taylor Ho Bynum: cornet, flugelhorn, piccolo and bass trumpets; Mary Halvorson: electric guitar; Katherine Young: bassoon.


Stef said...

Thanks Jeff, Anonymous and Bill for your reactions. In the end, it's all in the ear of the listener, and for his/her joy. You are the judge.

Anonymous said...

hello... hapi blogging... have a nice day! just visiting here....

Anonymous said...

Anthony Braxton & Kyle Brenders - Toronto (Duets) 2007 (Barnyard Records, 2008)

Anthony Braxton (saxophones); Maral Yakshieva (piano)-

Improvisations (Duo) 2008- Label: United One,2009

Yannis Livadas said...

Thank you friend.

Anonymous said...

short,but beautiful clip from

Braxton/Yakshieva duo


Anonymous said...


I don't mean to be pushy,but I'm still waiting for your review of the Braxton/Yakshieva duo.It is available from CD Baby,and almost nowhere else.I guess you'll get around to it,and I'd be VERY surprised if you don't think it's one of 2009's BEST...!



potenta said...

freat artist..i like very much to listen his music.:)