Sunday, May 4, 2008

braxtothon '08: week two preamble

1976 is a big year in the discography for several reasons. for a start, from my point of view it's another one of those intimidating peaks - indeed, a whole moutain range - in that i already had most of its (numerous) entries in the discog: until recently the only one i had missing for this year was the very last one, the mitchell duets, and that was added just before i started the first ascent (posted by kinabalu on inconstant sol). typically, i have been eyeing the peaks suspiciously from a distance, for some time now. indeed i had long since come to the conclusion that the only way to deal with this year would be to miss out a whole clutch of stuff from the middle of it.

'cos the thing about '76 is: not only does it mark the beginning of braxton's association with george lewis (and there are several meetings before we even get to any quartets), it was also a year of close encounters, a very abundant year in terms of intimate collaborations with others. (indeed this sub-plot begins earlier than i thought, as i was soon to discover: b. manages to achieve the "alone in a crowded room" effect with frederic rzewski, several months before getting down to any actual duos or trios.) very recently, running through the twelve entries in the discog for this year, i decided that i could simply skip a whole group of these collaborations, as well as the last one... and that would still leave me with plenty of listening and writing to do.

in the event, by the time the week two listening day came around, i was unable to go through with this ruthless plan. the meetings which i was casually planning to skip comprise performances with some very important players, crucial players as far as our man is concerned: teitelbaum, abrams, bailey and parker. how the hell could i just miss these out? and the answer is that i couldn't. the only thing i could do to lighten the load, i realised now, was treat time zones and company 2 as "interlude" sessions, since neither of these recordings features any of b's own music (the trio is of course freely improvised) - but as for the album with abrams, not only did i need to hear it, i needed to treat it as a full braxtothon session. three of the pieces are b's compositions, and they effectively comprise three quarters of the running time - no, what on earth was i thinking?!

so that was how i ended up with a week two schedule like this ("week two" actually consists of one day, as far as the listening sessions are concerned): 005 creative orch. music - 006 wildflowers track + elements of surprise - then "crossing" with teitelbaum - 007 duets w/m.r.a. - then the improv trio and finally "behemoth dreams"... well, that was the plan anyway; in the event i ran out of time, but still, in terms of what did get covered this was the most productive day since the honeymoon period in early october, and possibly the most productive of all. i'm getting better at it... which is just as well, bearing in mind how much time and thought i've been devoting to it... ah, but the energy is repaid, you see :)

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another thing of note that happens in '76 - after the big band dates in feb, before the wildflowers festival in may - is that holland and altschul first record as part of the sam rivers trio - the quest, the first of several cherished (regrettably rare) recordings by the group... of course it was not the first time that trio had played as such - that would be back in '74 (? i think), and regularly ever since - but this was the first time they made it into the studio, this trio which was so well-loved that it had its own reunion concert in 2007... both men would continue playing with rivers for a while, after they finally left the "school of braxton".

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