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4 (ensemble) Compositions - 1992

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Album Review

Recorded in 1979 despite the album's title, this is a fine example of Braxton's main working quartet between the Wheeler/Lewis-Holland-Altschul band of the mid-'70s and the Crispell-Dresser-Hemingway quartet of the '80s and '0s. His playbook by this time was mature, voluminous and varied and several aspects of his complex persona are well displayed herein. The roaring, up-tempo boppish themed opener "Composition 69G" is a wonderful springboard for spirited improvisation by all members, especially trombonist Ray Anderson and the under-appreciated percussionist Thurman Barker. The compellingly mysterious "Composition 40F," with its lengthy, serpentine melodic line that never seems to end, instead mutating into adjacent patterns, riding atop the youthful John Lindberg's steadfast arco bass, offers many chances for playful conversations between the musicians. There are a couple of Braxton's patently wacky pseudo-marches (including a fairly hilarious closing number), a rumbling and brooding free-ish piece and a lovely work, "Composition 69H," which not only lays a rich and fertile ground for several probing improvisations but also seems to point in the direction of some of his collage-oriented compositions of the '80s. Seven Compositions (1978) is, overall, a fine documentation of one of Braxton's less heralded bands and a fine compendium of works in its own right, providing a good portrait of the state of his musical concerns at the time.


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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