Thursday, December 6, 2007

skewed vision

so... what did i do? exactly what i said i wouldn't, let it get to the point where it was becoming a chore, an item in bold on a to-do list... ludicrous... and as i refuse to feel any pressure with this particular project, i have simply let it drift for the time being...

i must admit that i was somewhat shocked by (negative) responses to sonny simmons' performances with tight meat; for a few days after that i departed in another direction entirely, scarcely thought about music for a while and certainly didn't do any writing. then i found that i no longer even felt like doing any writing... hmmm, interesting. well... these things do tend to be cyclical with me.

ANYWAY... fuck all that, this was all supposed to be about spreading the word, the gospel (if i can co-opt such a term at this late stage) of braxton... if i allow a sense of duty or obligation to get in the way of just enthusing about mr b's music then i have surely taken a wrong turn, somewhere along the line... recently a correspondent of mine very kindly filled in some gaps for me, four albums from the 1979-84 period which i had hoped would cast further light on (the development of) b's 20-year experiment with the "creative jazz quartet" format - luckily he also sent me some other stuff (inc. a couple of günter christmanns - wow, these are really good! i had no idea he was such a good player) because, of course, i didn't feel i could permit myself more than a sneak preview of the braxtons until their time came in the (hellish, time-and-attention-consuming greedy monster that is the) braxtothon - !

in the end i lost patience with myself... or good sense finally won out, whichever... i didn't give any of them my full and undivided attention, but i've been listening to some great anthony braxton recordings over the last couple of days! and indeed i can see the gaps filling themselves in, as i speak... the jump (last night) from 1981's unhelpfully-titled six compositions: quartet to the 1984 album of the same name (almost) was remarkable, two very different piano quartets: indeed the former (a one-off grouping? - anthony davis, mark helias and ed blackwell) is very much a free jazz unit, very adept at rendering a selection of b's pieces but quite firmly rooted in the jazz idiom by blackwell; the later album, featuring the "final prototype" line-up (lindberg on bass) is startlingly open and seems to travel in many different directions all at once, and whereas my immediate impression is that it's crispell who is doing a lot of the opening, the crucial difference must surely be hemingway (i am reluctant to assume it's the pianist who was anchoring the earlier group, when that pianist was a known polymath like davis).

the later album, then, shows braxton furiously opening up new coalfaces and getting to work on all of them simultaneously... though i imagine this process has already begun earlier (if and when the monster-thon gets to that stage, i shall hope to find out) - yet this is the very period when some devotees of the man's earlier work lost interest, and never regained it... i know this to be true, though i confess it is beyond my comprehension :-S

rattling on... hey look i'm back..!

well... sort of

no promises at to times and dates but those london gigs will get written up... and what is left of the braxtothon pieces will still run as well, when i can get round to turning my attention that way...

bye for now - keep the faith/spread the word

cent x


paps said...

Good to see (read) that you're back. Haven't found my way through all the brax writings yet, but I no doubt will.

Particularly interested in the upcoming period. ... It's interesting you say this is where many listeners left Braxton. I find it a period of great expansion in his music (of what I know).

Listening along.

centrifuge said...

hi paps - thanks :)

the upcoming period... well, the braxtothon actually got derailed in 1974, and the published parts are only up to '73 so the immediate upcoming period is 1975-7... which is not yet where the problems set in, according to those who think b's later work is problematic... no, that supposedly comes afterwards, sometime between 1978 and 1980. you would have to ask one of them. a regular visitor to this blog would count himself among that number, but will he want to debate it here..?

i'm back; the braxtothon is not (and won't be until the new year - in the meantime, i will try and at least run the remaining entries before xmas..!)... mcclintic sphere was very busy the last i heard from him, but i imagine he is here in spirit at least :)

Volkan Terzioglu said...

dear cent,
I am really very busy right now but I will try to contribute in the near future to keep the flame on. This is I think is also our duty. And I got the news from Braxton (lately one of collaborators was in Istanbul) and I was told that he is fine and doing well now. And one news: does anybody know that his son is a rock star now in the States? I was told so :)

centrifuge said...

merhaba volkan,

thanks for breaking off from your busy schedule to pop a comment in! and for my part - i will try and post more regularly so that visitors at least have something fresh to read ;-) i am having some trouble finishing things at the moment...

tyondai braxton - well, i don't know if one would say rock "star" yet, his group (battles) has only a cult following... but they also have a very good collective pedigree: drummer john stanier plays for tomahawk (mike patton etc) and used to be in helmet, and one of the other guitarists (other than tyondai b. himself) played in don caballero iirc... as a matter of fact i bought the battles album when i was in london in july, but i found it rather disappointing, albeit not uninteresting - too much emphasis on processing/post-production for my liking, very difficult to tell what was actually *played*. the (heavily-treated) vocals are also an acquired taste... i gave it three spins and then filed it away in the cupboard, but it will emerge again at some point..!

zenkojiman said...


I've not been too well recently; but I've enjoyed dipping into this from time to time. It has been a real help, and the photos are uplifting.

But you still resist my challenge to nominate your Desert Island Discs of 10 albums drawn across the range of Braxton's career.

As Richard Thompson's song title has it, 'Why must I plead?'


centrifuge said...

hi z - sorry to hear you haven't been well, and i hope this finds you in better fettle. thanks for your comments as always...

well man, i certainly did not intend you to plead! in fact i didn't realise you were still waiting... i thought i had tackled this whole business... even if i had heard every single recording in the canon, i doubt very much that i would feel like paring the list down to ten for a desert island. as things stand... can't do it. sorry!! i did try and solicit lists from others, and even succeeded to a fair extent - i didn't realise you were waiting for mine, but it's gonna be a long wait i'm afraid...

lists are not a particularly healthy thing for me anyway: i was obsessed with them when i was younger... having "given them up", i tend to resist any gravitational pull back towards them! but in b's case especially, i should be very reluctant to make any assessment about which are the "best" or even which are my favourites... i would rather just keep listening to the music and (hopefully) keep learning.