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
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
• Show Bio for Anthony Braxton
[Anthony Braxton (born June 4, 1945) is an American composer and instrumentalist.]
"Genius is a rare commodity in any art form, but at the end of the 20th century it seemed all but non-existent in jazz, a music that had ceased looking ahead and begun swallowing its tail. If it seemed like the music had run out of ideas, it might be because Anthony Braxton covered just about every conceivable area of creativity during the course of his extraordinary career. The multi-reedist/composer might very well be jazz's last bona fide genius. Braxton began with jazz's essential rhythmic and textural elements, combining them with all manner of experimental compositional techniques, from graphic and non-specific notation to serialism and multimedia. Even at the peak of his renown in the mid- to late '70s, Braxton was a controversial figure amongst musicians and critics. His self-invented (yet heavily theoretical) approach to playing and composing jazz seemed to have as much in common with late 20th century classical music as it did jazz, and therefore alienated those who considered jazz at a full remove from European idioms. Although Braxton exhibited a genuine -- if highly idiosyncratic -- ability to play older forms (influenced especially by saxophonists Warne Marsh, John Coltrane, Paul Desmond, and Eric Dolphy), he was never really accepted by the jazz establishment, due to his manifest infatuation with the practices of such non-jazz artists as John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen. Many of the mainstream's most popular musicians (Wynton Marsalis among them) insisted that Braxton's music was not jazz at all. Whatever one calls it, however, there is no questioning the originality of his vision; Anthony Braxton created music of enormous sophistication and passion that was unlike anything else that had come before it. Braxton was able to fuse jazz's visceral components with contemporary classical music's formal and harmonic methods in an utterly unselfconscious -- and therefore convincing -- way. The best of his work is on a level with any art music of the late 20th century, jazz or classical.
Braxton began playing music as a teenager in Chicago, developing an early interest in both jazz and classical musics. He attended the Chicago School of Music from 1959-1963, then Roosevelt University, where he studied philosophy and composition. During this time, he became acquainted with many of his future collaborators, including saxophonists Joseph Jarman and Roscoe Mitchell. Braxton entered the service and played saxophone in an Army band; for a time he was stationed in Korea. Upon his discharge in 1966, he returned to Chicago where he joined the nascent Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). The next year, he formed an influential free jazz trio, the Creative Construction Company, with violinist Leroy Jenkins and trumpeter Leo Smith. In 1968, he recorded For Alto, the first-ever recording for solo saxophone. Braxton lived in Paris for a short while beginning in 1969, where he played with a rhythm section comprised of bassist Dave Holland, pianist Chick Corea, and drummer Barry Altschul. Called Circle, the group stayed together for about a year before disbanding (Holland and Altschul would continue to play in Braxton-led groups for the next several years). Braxton moved to New York in 1970. The '70s saw his star rise (in a manner of speaking); he recorded a number of ambitious albums for the major label Arista and performing in various contexts. Braxton maintained a quartet with Altschul, Holland, and a brass player (either trumpeter Kenny Wheeler or trombonist George Lewis) for most of the '70s. During the decade, he also performed with the Italian free improvisation group Musica Elettronica Viva, and guitarist Derek Bailey, as well as his colleagues in AACM. The '80s saw Braxton lose his major-label deal, yet he continued to record and issue albums on independent labels at a dizzying pace. He recorded a memorable series of duets with bop pioneer Max Roach, and made records of standards with pianists Tete Montoliu and Hank Jones. Braxton's steadiest vehicle in the '80s and '90s -- and what is often considered his best group -- was his quartet with pianist Marilyn Crispell, bassist Mark Dresser, and drummer Gerry Hemingway. In 1985, he began teaching at Mills College in California; he subsequently joined the music faculty at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, where he taught through the '90s. During that decade, he received a large grant from the MacArthur Foundation that allowed him to finance some large-scale projects he'd long envisioned, including an opera. At the beginning of the 21st century, Braxton was still a vital presence on the creative music scene."-All Music, Chris Kelsey (http://www.allmusic.com/artist/anthony-braxton-mn0000924030/biography)
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• Show Bio for Taylor Ho Bynum
"Taylor Ho Bynum (b. 1975) has spent his career navigating the intersections between structure and improvisation - through musical composition, performance and interdisciplinary collaboration, and through production, organizing, teaching, writing and advocacy. As heard on over twenty recordings as a bandleader, Bynum's expressionistic playing on cornet and his expansive vision as composer have garnered him critical attention as one of the singular musical voices of his generation. He currently leads his Sextet and 7-tette, and works with many collective ensembles including a duo with drummer Tomas Fujiwara, the improv trio Book of Three, the UK/US collaborative Convergence Quartet, the dance/music interdisciplinary ensemble Masters of Ceremony, and the trans-idiomatic little big band Positive Catastrophe.
His varied endeavors include his Acoustic Bicycle Tours (where he travels to concerts solely by bike across thousands of miles) and his stewardship of Anthony Braxton's Tri-Centric Foundation (which he serves as executive director, producing most of Braxton's recent major projects). In addition to his own bands, his ongoing collaboration with Braxton, past work with other legendary figures such as Bill Dixon and Cecil Taylor, and current collective projects with forward thinking peers, Bynum increasingly travels the globe to conduct community-based large ensembles in explorations of new creative orchestra music. He is also a published author and contributor to The New Yorker's Culture Blog, has taught at universities, festivals, and workshops worldwide, and has served as a panelist and consultant for leading funders and organizations. His work has received support from Creative Capital, the Connecticut Office of the Arts, Chamber Music America, New Music USA, USArtists International, and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation."-Taylor Ho Bynum website (http://taylorhobynum.com/)
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• Show Bio for Mary Halvorson
"One of improvised music's most in-demand guitarists, Mary Halvorson has been active in New York since 2002, following jazz studies at Wesleyan University and the New School. Critics have called her "a singular talent" (Lloyd Sachs, JazzTimes), "NYC's least-predictable improviser" (Howard Mandel, City Arts), "one of the most exciting and original guitarists in jazz-or otherwise" (Steve Dollar, Wall Street Journal), and "one of today's most formidable bandleaders" (Francis Davis, Village Voice). The Philadelphia City Paper's Shaun Brady adds, "Halvorson has been steadily reshaping the sound of jazz guitar in recent years with her elastic, sometimes-fluid, sometimes-shredding, wholly unique style."
After three years of study with visionary composer and saxophonist Anthony Braxton, Ms. Halvorson became an active member of several of his bands, including his trio, septet and 12+1tet. To date, she appears on six of Mr. Braxton's recordings. Ms. Halvorson has also performed alongside iconic guitarist Marc Ribot, in his bands Sun Ship and The Young Philadelphians, and with the bassist Trevor Dunn in his Trio-Convulsant. Over the past decade she has worked with such diverse bandleaders as Tim Berne, Taylor Ho Bynum, Tomas Fujiwara, Ingrid Laubrock, Myra Melford, Jason Moran, Joe Morris, Tom Rainey and Mike Reed.
As a bandleader and composer, one of Ms. Halvorson's primary outlets is her longstanding trio, featuring bassist John Hébert and drummer Ches Smith. Since their 2008 debut album, Dragon's Head, the band has been recognized as a rising star jazz band by Downbeat Magazine for five consecutive years. Ms. Halvorson's quintet, which adds trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson and alto saxophonist Jon Irabagon to the trio, has released two critically acclaimed albums on the Firehouse 12 label: Saturn Sings and Bending Bridges. Most recently she has added two additional band members-tenor saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock and trombonist Jacob Garchik-to form a septet, featured on her 2013 release Illusionary Sea. Ms. Halvorson also co-leads a longstanding chamber-jazz duo with violist Jessica Pavone, the avant-rock band People and the collective ensembles Thumbscrew and Secret Keeper."-Mary Halvorson Website (http://www.maryhalvorson.com/bio/)
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Catalog ID: CD LR 518
Squidco Product Code: 12035
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
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1. Composition 367b 1:10:11
2. Encore 2:53