Anthony Braxton is well known for his multifaceted output, which is perpetually in a state of flux. He rarely revisits the past, and the ensembles he conjures up varies from 100 tubas, traditional and creative music orchestras, instrumentalists equipped with speakers and iPods loaded with his entire recorded output (his current “Echo Echo Mirror House”), to “Sonic Genomes” involving large groups of musicians performing over eight hours. His scope as an instrumentalist is similarly wide-ranging, having featured notoriously difficult instruments such as the contrabass saxophone and clarinet, power tools, garbage cans, in addition to the rest of the “more common” woodwind family. In that light, Braxton’s solo music is unique as a format that he has continued returning to over the last 45 years (while he has performed solo on other instruments, his solo concerts are predominantly on the alto saxophone), charting a continuous evolution of both compositional thought and instrumental ideas since “For Alto.” Braxton’s thoughts on solo performance are well documented in Graham Locke’s “Forces in Motion,” Braxton’s own notes to the seminal “Alto Saxophone Improvisations 1979″ on Arista (which is now available again on the Mosaic box set), as well as Braxton’s own “Composition Notes.”
The present recording, a remarkable performance from 1991 in Allentown, Pennsylvania, has elements familiar from his earlier concerts (listeners can refer to the 1988 “19 Solo Compositions” on New Albion)—opening with a ballad composition, the Kelvin type repetitions (Set 1 Track 7) that dates back to some of his earliest pieces, the signature double tongued fast lines (Set 1 Track 2), and extended takes on favorite pieces from “the tradition.” At the same time, the Allentown concert also finds Braxton at a point of transition. While he had always built his solo pieces from sets of isolated components (which form the basic elements of his compositional system), the early 90′s find Braxton beginning to make more complex combinations of solo compositions, much in the same way that multiple compositions are performed simultaneously in his quartet and later Ghost Trance ensembles. This development would continue in the “Wesleyan (12 Altosolos) 1992″ (Hat Hut), and the Allentown recording now offers a glimpse into this period of Braxton’s continued examination of the possibilities of the solo composer/improviser.
|Recording Date||Apr 21, 1991|
|Location||Open Space Gallery|
Anthony Braxton: Alto Saxophone