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Solo (Milano) 1979 Vol. 1

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Album Review

Following in the wake of the 2002 archival release Solo (Koln) 1978, Solo (Milano) 1979 presents another previously unavailable live recording of one of two concerts performed within three days in Milano in January 1979. While the previous album sported a sound quality that matched the impressive performance, this one requires more dedication from the listener. Hissy and flat in places, the tape challenges the ear before the music has a chance to challenge the mind. That said, fans will find the album worth owning, especially since it contains a few compositions that had been left undocumented. The set is typical of late-'70s solo Braxton: a mix of really harsh pieces ("Composition No. 8i," "Composition No. 119a"), full of tongue stabs that sound like daggers, ear-piercing high notes, and incredibly brutal dynamic shifts alongside softer tunes ("Composition No. 99m," for instance) based on circular or cascading motifs. In the latter pieces, the jazz vein is never far. Two standards, "I Remember Clifford" and "Out of Nowhere," relieve tension in key points of the set while proving to the quiet audience that the man was not all virtuosity and abstraction. Braxton is in good shape, but he sounds tired in "Composition No. 99m," having trouble keeping the triplets flowing elegantly and resting just a bit too much on the long notes. Solo (Milano) 1979 makes a nice addition to a fan's collection, but it has a more marginal value. ~ François Couture, Rovi


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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