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Quartet (Moscow) 2008

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Audio CD, December 2, 2008
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Editorial Reviews

Performed in Moscow on June 29, 2008 with Anthony Braxton on sopranino, soprano, alto saxophone and contrabass clarinet, Taylor Ho Bynum on cornet, flugelhorn, piccolo and bass trumpets, Mary Halvorson on electric guitar and Katherine Young on bassoon, in front of an ecstatic Russian audience, this is one of Mr. Braxton's best performances ever both in terms of music and quality of recording. The CD consists of 2 tracks, Composition 367B at 70 minutes and Encore at 3 minutes.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (December 2, 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Leo
  • ASIN: B001H50ZVQ
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #404,882 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
This recording from Moscow in 2008 has Braxton et al. powering through an intense and focused 70+ minutes (with 3 minute encore!). This is a little bit different than some of the more recent Braxton releases (and most of the older ones that are currently available) in that the group interaction is a little more diffuse than usual. Long time companions Mary Halvorson and Taylor Ho Bynum are fantastic and are clearly used to one another's playing. Mary Halvoron's one of the few (to me) truly inspiring guitarists out there right now (Her trio record "Dragon's Head" was one of the highlights of the year) and she works exceptionally well in this small group setting. The real surprise here is the bassoonist Katherine Young in this unusual quartet [Anthony Braxton (sss, ss, as, bar, b-sx, Eb-contralto-cl, elec), Taylor Ho Bynum (cor, bugle, trumpbone, pic-tpt, b-tpt, mutes, shells), Mary Halvorson (el-g), Katherine Young (bsn) date info taken from Restructures.net]. Her bassoon has a tendency to lay pretty low in the mix, bubbling up and and at times providing an odd low end bass cloud from which the others spray their notes into and out of. Braxton wrote his own computer program that provides a strange feedback-like shroud of chandelier haze at some of the more quiet moments. Even amongst Braxton's recorded works of unique compositions, this stands out. Definitely recommended.
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There is something oddly cinematic and moody about Anthony Braxton's Moscow composition "367B." Unlikely textures are created with bassoon, guitar, trumpet, and saxophone and give it a bizarre shading I didn't think was possible prior to hearing this. And when you begin to play it, you're in it for the long haul: one hour, ten minutes, eleven seconds. And then an encore after that!

I just wish that Braxton would have used Mary Halvorson in a more strange way. Her playing here is pretty good, but I think weirder sounds would have gone a long way with the guitar parts. But is the overall thing worth it? Yes. Braxton has been at this a long time. Give him pen and staff paper, tell him to create mood and texture with just these four instruments, and he does it!
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I am a fan of this quartet, with its odd instrumentation and highly individualistic players. ABs music comes in a wide variety of formats, but a small chamber ensemble allows both the composition and the improvisors to shine through. Mary Halvorsen has emerged as a wonderfully rhythmic foil to Anthony's spirited solos. Bynum has been trading licks with the leader for over a decade now, and continues to inspire. Katherine Young's Bassoon provides another voice and some low-end texture for this adventurous outing.

Braxton's music requires a commitment on the part of the listener. Our exploration would be eased somewhat if he were to issue the music in bite-sized chunks. But, he's the composer, and so our commitment must include creating time to listen to an hour of music in one sitting. I swear, it's worth it.

That'll be the customary 15,000 stars (or so) for Mr. Braxton.
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