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Anthony Braxton Ninetet (Yoshi's) [1997], Vol. 3

Anthony Braxton

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Album Review

Released 15 months after Vol. 2, this two-CD set continues to document the Anthony Braxton Ninetet's six-night residency at Yoshi's. "Composition No. 211" and "Composition No. 212" (each 55 minutes long) were both performed on August 21, 1997. Because of the range of arrangements it offers in a format relatively easy to keep together, the Ninetet is turning into Braxton's ultimate Ghost Trance Music-era group, in the light of these recordings. The (shifting) triple-trio configuration, the quality of the musicianship, and the creativity developed from "Composition No. 207" through "Composition No. 218" will make this series one of the essential documents of GTM. As on the previous night, the most immediate difference between the first and the second pieces is Kevin Norton's role. In "211," he sticks exclusively to marimba and vibraphone, while in "212" he is mostly behind the drum kit. The first piece is the strongest one of the two. Braxton, Brandon Evans, and J.D. Parran form a flute trio at one point which, coupled with Norton's vibes, takes listeners into unusually velvety pastures. The pulse is marvelously sustained, producing a strong hypnotic effect, and the music attains a level of complexity and confidence — ease too, probably — the previous evenings only hinted at. "212" is slightly less impressive, mostly because the wind section lacks a bit of togetherness in key places. But it also features a fine bass sax solo from Parran, some of the series' most audacious "departures" from the main score, and a gentle finale (a nice change from the more standard GTM practice, which consists of abruptly stopping in the middle of a staccato tutti). The quality and entertainment value of Steve Day's listening diary — an excellent no-nonsense contextualization of Braxton's music — is also worth noting. ~ François Couture, Rovi

Biography

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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