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Quartet (Birmingham) 1985

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Album Review

(Birmingham) 1985 is probably the least essential of the four double-disc sets that Leo devoted to Anthony Braxton's November 1985 tour of Great Britain. Of course, the hardcore Braxton fans who this release is designed for will want it because this tour of Braxton's Forces of Motion Quartet (Marilyn Crispell on piano, Mark Dresser on bass, and Gerry Hemingway on percussion, with Braxton on reeds) looms fairly large in the composer's legend. However, in comparison to Quartet (London) 1985, which has the most exciting interplay between the four musicians, and (Coventry) 1985, which features an often fascinating hour's worth of interviews of Braxton by Graham Lock (who wrote the liner notes on all of these releases), (Birmingham) 1985 is the least essential of the lot. It does, however, feature a charming rarity on the second disc: an actual encore, the only one Braxton played on this tour. A brief run-through of "Composition 40(0)" led by a fleet spray-of-notes solo by Braxton and featuring some comping by Crispell in the manner of her hero Cecil Taylor, it's proof that avant-garde jazz needn't be difficult or forbidding.

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Quartet (Birmingham) 1985, Anthony Braxton Quartet
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