Sunday, September 28, 2008

a bit of space and clarity

two things i want to share with you:

1. piano music... how many times have i said (sometimes by way of excuse) that piano music is not my thing? well... sometimes it is, sure enough, but it's true that the instrument itself rarely seems to speak directly to me in the way, say, saxophones or clarinets or trombones do. naturally, when the piano music box set came out, i was tempted even though i didn't expect to be able to enjoy the music just yet. but i couldn't justify the purchase to myself at the time, and that was that.

then some download links turned up... you know how these things go, there are places online where such things are shared among closed circles, i don't frequent such places myself but one or two of my correspondents sometimes pass on things they know will be of interest... even then, it took me a while to pull the files and even longer to listen to any of them. but last night, out of the blue i found myself listening to comp. 5 and being enthralled by it, pulled completely into its world...

... and i went right to the composition notes, which were still sitting almost untouched until the next braxtothon phase shift (imminent!); and i'm not going to get pulled into details on any of this here and now, though i did smile at the discovery that the piece was constructed in three parts (in 1968), the last part added two months after the rest of it... who did that remind me of? :) not that i am for a minute comparing my feeble workrate with our man's, that would be embarrassing, but still...

... anyway, the upshot is that i may just buy the box set after all, while it's still available..! quite apart from any other considerations, comp. 5 itself makes much use of the sustain pedal, hence note decay is a prime element of the sound... mp3 still tells you what's going on, but it's a clear instance where the difference will be highly noticeable - not that i ever said it wasn't... that was never the issue..!

* * *

2. beyond quantum - now what the hell happened there exactly? what was i trying to do to myself? i order the cd, and rather than hunt for a cheap used copy (it being a tzadik release, someone is already bound to have decided they don't want it...), i got it from the label - and this is the crucial bit, made a proper indulgence out of it (both for me and for them) by throwing in a couple more items. hence, a delay of a fortnight in receiving the damn package and a customs charge when it finally showed up... and even then i still don't listen to the music straight away, indeed not for a half a week as it turns out, not all of it anyway...

... a number of reasons for that, but among them a sense of increased pressure, a feeling that i need to write about every single recording i listen to, in at least some useful detail... well, maybe in an ideal world i would, but the days or nights when it just flows out of me are few and far between, the rest of the time it can be a form of slow torture and - this is the point - when the pressure to communicate prevents me from even making time to listen in the first place, clearly something has gone wrong... anyway, rectified that tonight, sat and played the whole album in one sitting as it's intended to be heard (pieces are all distinct, but are merged together on the album); and, again, this is not the time or place to go on about it! i'll be going back to it anyway. suffice to say in the meantime it's a highly successful meeting; whether it's the "vanguard jazz fan's dream come true" as has been suggested is perhaps up for debate, and in any case of course it wasn't the first time this trio has played, just the first meetings in a studio (the rome date from march 2007 is still up at huppes & hyalites, even if the blog itself is in suspended animation..!). if you want to know what the album sounds like..? it sounds like anthony braxton, william parker and milford graves improvising together more or less freely on loosely-prearranged structures, a couple of producers listening in very closely... there's no mystery beyond that, and i still don't like that album title..! but the constant communication between b. and graves in particular is still commended to your attention. and yes, for those minds whose braxton-fuses are as yet unlit, this could even be a flaming torch... those of you reading this are likely to know what to expect, but don't expect the mundane, even so. [as always, there are moments - !!]


Frédito said...

Hi Cent' ; I saw this box set of piano music somewhere but did not resolve to dl it now, for I was not sure whether I would really enjoy it or not. Your post now makes me curious about the impressive release. Limited editions of 500 is what I like, as I (try to) collect every release of the recommended Amor Fati label from Bordeaux. But I won't be able even to consider buying such an item of 9 discs.
Lately I've left b's work in the 70s, somewhere between the duo with George Lewis and the New York Fall... Fascinating period, but is there any weak period in b's production ?
I will perhaps up more at Huppes soon, I must find the time.
Thanks for the very interesting notes, keep up the good work !


centrifuge said...

salut f, et merci...

... is there any weak period in b's production ? i don't know yet ;-) but past experience would lead me to doubt it, though some periods have certainly been more fruitful than others at least in terms of concrete evidence..! '76 was a ridiculously good year... but one could also count back a few years - and forward at least one, before it gets murky... one of the reasons i try to cover albums, live concerts etc almost equally in the braxtothon is that the official discog can only ever be a partial reflection of what was going on in the composer's mind... even if one had ALL of it... a+, c x