Monday, February 9, 2009

Last night a DJ saved my life

A review of the Complete Arista Recordings, broadcast in the US last week on NPR.

I actually like the review pretty well, except for the bit about Sousa's band marching into a wall.  To me, the creative orchestra track in question is the sound of a joyful march into freedom... not at all a destructive image.

But overall, pretty solid.  And great publicity for our man.

These records were my first introduction to Braxton, about 15 years ago.  I have a lot of them on vinyl already, and they're some of my favorite recordings.  It's great to have them in print... I would say "again," but have they ever all been in print at the same time?  And wasn't "For Four Orchestras" in print for about a week?
McC. S.


centrifuge said...

- and he's back! nice to read you, man :)

i clicked on the review link and promptly got a spyware warning - anyone else? i may have picked something up elsewhere, my pc is not fully behaving itself these days... but of course i didn't then get to read the review...

yeah, i think *four orchs* was yanked the minute the powers that be realised what they had been "tricked" into releasing... writing off the investment just to make the point that the artist had no business trying it on in the first place - presumably there were slapped wrists for the producers also? depressing isn't it... it remains the only (major) album from that period i don't have a copy of - put off somewhat by the scale of it, and partly by knowing in advance that it was a very compromised and unfinished project - that it got realised at all, in whatever form, seems almost miraculous now - but that's to overlook the amount of money b. himself had to put up..!

ubu xxiii said...

Thanks for that link, cent. I had a listen, rather than reading anything. Yes, the mid seventies 'trilogy' of 'NY fall 1974', '5 pieces 1975' & 'Creative orchestra music' were crucial in my own growing awareness of music's possibilities.
Has there been anything like a revaluation of the Arista music in this country? Maybe that's a job for 'Eartrip.'
Lewis's book is definitely worth a read, probably not as dense as 'Tri-axium', probably downright journalistic at times in comparison, but along with Muhal, Wadada & Roscoe, GEL comes across as a real mind, along with Braxton, a major force to be reckoned with from the world of AACM.

centrifuge said...

hi - ah, now this is what i was afraid of, namely that with so little fanfare attached to mcclintic sphere's return to his own blog, some would not even notice... this was not my post! (hence my own comment above)

ubu xxiii, i'll try not to take too much umbrage about this, but have i not revaluated that music, in this country?? i reckon i have... those three albums you mention, specifically..! admittedly that has not yet extended to cover the whole of the arista output, i'm some way off being able to do that, but it's a work in progress and the arista period will clearly be one "chapter" in it. it remains a serious and wholehearted intention.

funnily enough it remains a serious intention to read that damn lewis book, too... very good indeed from what i read, and yes, lewis is just radiantly a "big mind" - off the top of my head i would add threadgill's name to your list, and i'll happily assume there are plenty of others being left out... in fact the aacm is one of the most amazing collections of creative intelligences that i've ever heard of {{{*@*@*}}}

ubu xxiii said...

I didn't mean to belittle your critical work, cent, but, hell, these days more than ever a musician's work, past or present, and the tangible impact it makes on a large of listeners and maybe even other musicians, depends so much on the mechanisms of media, distribution, availability, plugs etc.
In a more equable world Braxton would play an annual visit to this country to give us a taste of his new musical inventions. (He was even in Russia in 2008)
Blogs like this have become necessary as a kind of underground to maintain some kind of interest, some kind of dialogue, when music like Braxton's falls somewhere between 'Jazzwise' & 'Wire', probably missing both.
As for the Mosaic box set, it's doubleplusgood (as they used to say in 1984) that the music has been reissued at last, but how many devotees, especially students or unwaged, will be able to fork out, given the state of the £, moan, moan etc. (?) They might have to chance accessing a download of some kind at best.
I'm sure Mike Heffley's accompanying comments will be worth reading, but Jason Guthartz has seen fit to publish some original sleeve ntes, notably Braxton's own extremely helpful comments on 'For trio', evidently not included in the Mosaic. I think these are necessary; probably Mr.Heffley's notes are too.
And the world would DEFINITELY be more impoverished without this blog.

centrifuge said...

why thank you... no, i take your point about visibility/coverage etc but i can't do much about that at the moment... one day i do hope to publish the core (braxtothon) work at least, not everything on the blog of course, but even then it might quickly disappear out of print, this is minority-interest stuff we're talking about (alas) - as for those mags you mention, well, as i'm always saying i don't read them or any others so i'm in no position to miss what they omit...

... and until such time as i attempt to reach a wider audience, at least you will be able to say you were in on the (under)ground floor :) just cos few people have seen the writing, doesn't mean the work hasn't been done - some of those aristas, at least, have now been reassessed, because i reassessed them; if that reassessment has not found its way into wide-circulation "soundbite" form, a couple of nice pithy (generalised/oversimplified) sentences for each album, i'm not sure that's such a bad thing. indeed this whole "catchphrase" business, much employed by some record collectors, is part of what i'm trying to get away from - we're back to the idea of remembering one's own opinions rather than the art itself (and endlessly recycling those opinions as self-advertising graffiti) - damn, but i'm glad i don't have to review music for a living...