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Composed for a performance at the 2021 OM 25 Festival in San Fransisco between saxophonist & composer Anthony Braxton and saxophonist James Fei, "Composition 429" uses Braxton's new music system Lorraine, a combination of traditional notation and color-coded symbols of the composer's design to indicate specific sound types or performance techniques.
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Label: Other Minds
Catalog ID: OM 1033-2
Squidco Product Code: 32469
Packaging: Jewel Case
Recorded live at Taube Atrium Theater, in San Francisco, California, on October 17th, 2021, by James Fei.
Anthony Braxton-reeds, electronics
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• 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 James Fei
"James Fei (b. Taipei, Taiwan) moved to the US in 1992 to study electrical engineering. He has since been active as a composer and performer on saxophones and live electronics. Works by Fei have been performed by the Bang on a Can All-Stars, Orchestra of the S.E.M. Ensemble, MATA Micro Orchestra and Noord-Hollands Philharmonisch Orkest. Recordings can be found on Leo Records, Improvised Music from Japan, CRI, Krabbesholm and Organized Sound. Compositions for Fei's own ensemble of four alto saxophones focus on physical processes of saliva, fatigue, reeds crippled by cuts and the threshold of audible sound production, while his sound installations and performance on live electronics often focus on electronic and acoustic feedback. Fei received the Grants for Artists Award from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts in 2014. Fei has taught at Mills College in Oakland since 2006, where he is Associate Professor of Electronic Arts. www.jamesfei.com
Works by Fei have been performed at Merkin Hall, The Kitchen, Knitting Factory, Tonic, Roulette, Experimental Intermedia, MATA Festival, Engine 27, The Stone, Issue Project Room (all New York), SFMoma, Empty Bottle (Chicago), Akedemie der Künste (Berlin), Beurs van Berlage (Amsterdam), Steim (Amsterdam), Overtoom 301 (Amsterdam), JFC Club (St Petersberg), Super Deluxe (Tokyo), Shinjuku Pit Inn (Tokyo), Osaka Arts-Aporia, Bridge (Osaka), and National Recital Hall (Taiwan). Fei has lectured at Columbia University, Wesleyan University,The Art Institute of Chicago, Taipei Normal University,Taipei National University of the Arts, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Theremin Center (Moscow), Pro Arte (St. Petersberg), Krabbesholm (Denmark), IAMAS (Ogaki, Japan) and NUAS (Nogoya, Japan)."-James Fei Website (http://www.jamesfei.com/bio.html)
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1. Composition No. 429 42:44
sample the album:
"Composition 429" is the first piece using a new writing method that Braxton calls "Lorraine." The composer's notes to the piece describe Lorraine as "a music system that governs the 'sonic winds' of breath." Saxophonist and longtime collaborator James Fei contributes an essay detailing the Lorraine system, which uses a combination of traditional notation and color-coded symbols of the composer's design to indicate "specific sound types or performance techniques," drawing from Braxton's long history as an artist but always looking to the future of music. This notation is uniquely not reliant on linear type or representation thereof. Also included in the Duet (Other Minds) 2021 package are extensive notes from noted jazz critic Nate Chinen contextualizing the performance.
It's immediately apparent that the duo have been playing together for decades, Fei having appeared on numerous recordings of Braxton's work throughout their years working together. Despite this, Duet (Other Minds) 2021 marks their first recording as a duo. Covering the spectrum of saxophones, the pair harmonizes strings of melodies that hover between the angular and the familiar. As Braxton himself puts it, "memories and shadows of 'beingness' adorn the ornamentation of old ruins and blessed relics." The Lorraine system calls for performers to play the written material as composed followed by an extrapolative section where players improvise with the material following an additional layer of more abstract notation, but always in rhythmic unison. In this performance, Braxton and Fei are accompanied by "Diamond Curtain Wall Music," an electronics system that continuously derives pitch information from their performance. This multitude of layers expands and contracts and interacts in an ever-changing kaleidoscope that even stretches to encompass the composer's past work - in this case Braxton's "Ghost Trance Music," Compositions No. 272 and No. 343. The pair cover a dizzying swath of territory over the course of the piece's 40 minutes.
Anthony Braxton's restless creativity is on full display on Duet (Other Minds) 2021, the sound of a composer decades into his career continuing to not only expand the breadth of his oeuvre, but continuing to find the joy and excitement in doing it. This music capitalizes on not only the deep creative partnership between the players, but also the deep relationship between the players and the music - a unique experience even for a composer with the massive catalog of Anthony Braxton."-Other Music
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