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December 7, 2008

'Quartet (Dortmund) 1976' - Anthony Braxton

Anthony Braxton screams modernity! From the way he titles his works, to his album covers, and through the aesthetic of his sound. Amazingly he has adhered to this image even up until today. One aspect of free jazz that I love is the subtle and subliminal intuitiveness between a group of musicians, and Braxton consistently achieves this with his musicians.

This record is supplied with four compositions buy this stunning quartet. It's insanely well produced and each instrument is mixed amazingly in the channels. George Lewis is heard on trombone in the left channel while Braxton is pertained to the right. To me what makes it brilliant on the ears is the echoing acoustics of Braxton's reeds on the left channel. You hear his notes and riffs mimicking themselves as they bounce around the venue.

Composition 40 F / Composition 23 J is a 26 minute long track that starts off with his whimsical, ambient, and often times almost minimal (comparatively speaking) free form playing before erupting into the more aggressive, straight ahead free jazz style to top the track off -- Is that an oxymoron or what, straight-ahead free jazz? -- I guess what I mean is a sound more stylized like Ornette Coleman; and there is nothing straight-ahead about Ornette.

The rest of the set demonstrates this similar concept.
Composition 40 (O) and Composition 6 C are more ambient before the whole set finishes with Composition 40 B. This conclusion is a stellar performance by the whole group creating an incredible peak to the set. [As an added note, I think Dave Holland's best recordings are with Braxton's groups]
1976 - Hat Hut Records.
Anthony Braxton - alto, contrabass & sopranino sax, clarinet, EB & contrabass clarinet; George Lewis - trombone; Dave Holland - bass; Barry Altschul - drums, percussion.

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