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Composition No. 173

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Album Review

Composition 113 is an early recorded example of Braxton's "ritual" music; a dramatic, storytelling piece that, when performed live, involved specific staging instructions and visual accompaniment. The album is in six sections, representing six characters, each with a certain sound strategy/character tendency: humor, acceptance, strength, dependability, courage, and belief. As much as this information may provide an interesting background to the work, one listening to the record is left simply with six stunning solo performances by Braxton on soprano saxophone. While he has recorded numerous solo excursions on alto, this is the only time he devoted an entire release to solo soprano and one could only wish for more. His command of the instrument is astonishing; whether dancing agilely over airy and intricate themes or crying with impassioned sorrow, Braxton plays at a level commensurate with acknowledged masters of this ornery horn such as Steve Lacy. But all his technical mastery is subsumed in the service of the composition and that is the real joy of this work. Each section has a distinct character and one really gets the impression of accurate, deep portraits of individual persona relating their stories.

Composition 113 is not nearly as forbidding or difficult as one might guess at first blush, given its ascetic instrumentation. Braxton's tone is rich and luscious throughout and he freely draws on both blues and romanticism, making this one of his more accessible solo forays. Highly recommended.


Born: 04 June 1945 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

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...
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