Friday, December 27, 2013

Anthony Braxton- 3 Compositions of New Jazz [1968]

A friend of mine once astutely noted that Anthony Braxton was the Modern Classical equivalent of the jazz world (which would make Art Tatum the Classical Era equivalent, if you enjoy extending analogies too far).  Graphical notation and a penchant for unique instrumental combinations that lead to slanted, atonal eddies of sound adequately sums up most of Braxton’s career, although such a superficial description is a disservice to the iconoclast.  His first release before the solo improvisational For Alto, 3 Compositions of New Jazz finds Braxton arriving at the logical conclusion of the then blossoming free jazz movement.  Ditching the archetypal rhythm section for the occasional expressionist drumming and atmospheric accoutrements, Braxton and his fellow musicians create a complex web of conversation amongst one another.  The indecipherably named first track revolves around the lovely vocal melody laid out at the beginning of the record, yet quickly spirals into a display of raw instrumentation and interplay.  Braxton’s music is as free as free jazz can get, yet still possesses the mathematical intricacy of the Modern Classical music he often cited as influence.  But don’t be misled: Braxton’s jazz is still visceral and mysterious in its outré display of emotion.  Much like his cryptic composition names, this music possesses depth that reveals itself only after intense scrutiny, and even then still might come off as obtuse.  A must-listen for anyone who is a fan of boldly unique music. 


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