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Braxton's with Taylor Ho Bynum, Mary Halvorson and Katherine Young performing at the DOM in Moscow, incredible and unusual music from his "Diamond Curtain Wall Quartet".

Braxton, Anthony Quartet (Moscow) 2008
Composition 367b

Braxton,  Anthony Quartet (Moscow) 2008: Composition 367b (Leo)
Label: Leo    
Released in: Great Britain    

"[...] So, let's make some sense of this latest release. It dates from June 2008, when the Diamond Curtain Wall Quartet toured Europe visiting France, Russia and Italy. This quartet adds Katherine Young on bassoon to the Diamond Wall Trio (Braxton plus cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum and guitarist Mary Halvorson) that was recorded on Trio (Victoriaville) 2007 (Victo, 2007). The only other previous recordings of Diamond Wall Music were also on Leo-4 Compositions (Ulrichsberg) 2005 and Trio(Glasgow) 2005 (both Leo, 2005). This CD records the quartet's Moscow concert. Lest there be any doubt, the cover photographs capture a beaming Braxton posing outside Lenin's tomb and St. Basil's cathedral in Red Square.

The defining characteristic of the Diamond Curtain Wall Music is Braxton's use of reactive laptop electronics (created using Super-Collider software). Given the recent prevalence of laptops and electronics in performances of improvised music, this development by Braxton is no great surprise, and opens up exciting possibilities. Reports of the live experience speak of the computer electronics creating a shimmering veil of sound on stage that is compatible with the name Diamond Curtain Wall. To date, none of the recordings of the DCW support these reports, the electronics occasionally being audible rather than being an ever present element of the sound. Nor do the recordings give evidence of the electronics being "reactive" in the sense of them responding to the music played by the quartet; they certainly sound less reactive than the (human controlled) electronics in Evan Parker's Electro-Acoustic Ensemble, to pick an obvious comparison. Instead, it is the players of this quartet who react to each other and to the stimuli provided by the electronics; maybe the essence of these new Braxton compositions is to provide suitably stimulating environments that get the best out of the players.

Anyway, based on the end results, the DCW Music must be judged a success. Too often, the appearance of laptops onstage is a prelude to extended drones which allow little space for creativity on acoustic instruments. Here, the opening section, during which the electronics are audible, indicate that may be what lies in store; there is an electronic drone similar to guitar feedback. Instead, we get something more akin to a concerto, where the musicians are given space to interact and express themselves. After about half a minute, Braxton makes a dramatic entrance on soprano, soon joined by Bynum and Halvorson. All the musicians seize the opportunities offered by the electronics and exploit them fully. Bursting with ideas and energy, Braxton imaginatively employs his full range of tones, from the twittering sopranino to the profundities of the contrabass clarinet, the latter being particularly noteworthy, and leads the line to stunning effect. Taylor Ho Bynum and Mary Halvorson, both former students of Braxton, are adept at interpreting his music with imagination. [...]"-John Eyles, All About Jazz

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Related Categories of Interest:

Leo Records

Improvised Music
Anthony Braxton
NY Downtown & Jazz/Improv
Staff Picks & Recommended Items
Quartet Recordings

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Product Information:

UPC: 5024792051823

Label: Leo
Catalog ID: CD LR 518
Squidco Product Code: 12035

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2008
Country: Great Britain
Packaging: Jewel Tray
Recorded live at the DOM, Moscow on June 29, 2008 by Alexey Lapin.


Anthony Braxton-sopranino sax, soprano sax, alto saxophone, contrabass clarinet

Taylor Ho Bynum-cornet, flugelhorn, piccolo trumpet, bass trumpet, valve trombone

Mary Halvorson-electric guitar

Katherine Young-bassoon

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Track Listing:

1. Composition 367b 1:10:11

2. Encore 2:53