Thursday, March 31, 2011

***music here***/corrigendum

just a quick one... i mentioned recently that i'd acquired both sets from 11/11/93, to go with the two from the 12th which are available at TCF (thanks to atanase for sorting me out with these); if anyone is interested, i've now uploaded these as high-rate mp3s and it seems only fitting to offer them here... just to reiterate, this is the classic quartet with crispell, dresser and hemingway and the music is so good that for once i'm not even going to try and describe it. i don't have track lists for these sets at all, and i haven't attempted to provide them - there were a few themes which i recognised for sure, but none which i could identify off the top of my head. if anyone can help out, please leave a comment or drop me a line

braxton quartet - knitting factory, nyc, 11th november 1993

set one

set two

- enjoy!


i don't post much music here, which is possibly one reason why people tend not to notice when i do..! just in case anyone missed it who would be interested, there is still a very good, sax-laden gtm concert available here. (probably i have written enough about the 65th birthday concert that even occasional readers are aware of that one, but if not, there is some music here too, indexed and identified - the same music is available elsewhere, but not with all the relevant details!)


back to new york '93 briefly - i detailed some corrections recently to the track lists for the boots up at TCF; this included the new york (12th november) sets, but i forgot to mention one more, namely that the encore for the second set is actually the arco march comp. 6a, not 69n as listed. it's beginning to look as if the whole listing is pretty unreliable, unfortunately :-S

[oh yeah - and i'm very gradually still working my way back through the blog, correcting the discog links..! i'm up to here so far... appropriately enough, given the previous post...]

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

braxbites #3: the '97 ninetet

(not a nonet, notice)

this was volume four i was listening to - the one i acquired over the festive season from good old leo records; i already have the other three (also purchased directly from the label) and wrote briefly about one set here. this is a line-up which really isn't designed to welcome newcomers much, those considering the idea of flirting with b's music not likely to feel unintimidated by the mental image of six sax players and a three-man rhythm trying desperately to make itself heard. or, as it turns out, the problem might be just the opposite, namely that the very spare and economical "head" arrangements for this group (in which players are often initially "hidden" by attacks being perfectly duplicated) might engender an immediate assumption that there won't be enough variety in the sound palette. in any case wrong, wrong, wrong. this music is packed full of treats for the ear once it's up and running - and it's surely understood by now that all gtm takes a while to get up and running, the theme being always necessary to suck one into the required receptive listening state; again - this in itself is a sort of paradox, since the "organised awkwardness" of a diamond-clef theme must be an instant turn-off for a lot of unconvinced jazzers out there; but for the initiated the effect the themes have is precisely that they take us there, to the place where nothing is true and everything is permitted.

with two discs to work from here, there are general points to be made - in addition to what i've already said above -  as well as a few choice miniatures to single out for the reader's attention.

it's a feature of b's music generally (certainly from the "collage phase" onwards, if not before), and i've mentioned it before myself, but it bears repeating: the density of the musical ideas once the pieces are fully underway here is astounding. with no sense of rush, the music moves at tremendous "speed", therefore - that is, the information being exchanged between players and listener is delivered at a terrific rate (*1). at this relatively early stage in the evolution of gtm, it may perhaps some surprise some readers that this already the case; indeed, plenty of people seem to have convinced themselves (usually on short acquaintance) that b's composition took a step backwards round about this time (*2) and didn't start to expand again until the third species, accelerator-class pieces began to appear, well into the new century. this is a mistaken impression, naturally. what might sound at first like stiff, mechanical themes or arrangements are actually filled with life and breathing space, inspired by true creative magic to engender all manner of musical possibilities. for this listener, at least, the effect whenever i listen is invariably "holistic": it satisfies me intellectually and emotionally at the same time, fostering in me a sense of happiness and joy that at times becomes outright, childlike delight. yes, i've said all this before and, again, it's worth repeating (as many times as it might take for the message to sink in!).

when listening to groups from this era i often forget temporarily that i'm not listening to mary halvorson on guitar, so used am i to her presence by now; kevin o'neil doesn't actually sound like her as such (and of course mary h. would generally announce herself pretty early on with one of her signature "wobbles"), it's just that it seems as if she must always have been present! (*3) - o'neil struck me as a little subdued on the second set (comp. 214) in particular, not really getting a chance to nudge his way into the spotlight until 25 mins are on the clock, but then it's all been about the horns up till then, and no great surprise there. (he does get to finish up all by himself, this not being a piece which ends mid-theme; some gtm performances do, some don't. the fact that a string player gets to close out the piece reminded me at once of comp. 63, from berlin '76 - among other occasions it's been performed *4.)

the rhythmic "collisions" in both pieces are frequently amazing. already there will have been sectional playing at work (at least i presume so) and the separate sub-groups will have been allowed autonomy at certain stages of the performances; one way in which this is expressed is in the different rhythms and tempos which are taken up by each trio at times. the resulting complexity is at once mind-boggling and simply beautiful. at one such point during comp. 213 i found myself visualising an "impossibly unpredictable complex clock-structure" - the image of a clock mechanism being one which has come to my mind before during such listenings - and a little later in the same piece it suddenly occurred to me that b. has a total fascination for the rhythms of the rail - at a later stage of gtm, trains will become an explicit part of the title-imagery for the compositions (*5). but the idea was already there, and as if to prove it, at 15.50 in comp. 214 one section launches into comp. 34, this proving so infectious that it quickly spreads to the whole ensemble and transforms the stage briefly into a crazy street party, though still with a sense of the locomotive somehow running through it (*6).

five minutes into the same piece (no need to do this "in order" for a change), we witness the unfolding of a highly complex extension of one of b's early-70s ballad structures; within another minute, this in turn has spawned its own extensions and outgrowths, speeding the listening ear way beyond the starting point. and of course comp. 213 also contains numerous moments which leave me sighing at the beauty of it all, and others which generate real heat and excitement - well, this in itself is nothing new, obviously, it was (again) a feature of the "great quartet" (*7), but throughout the 45th minute of this piece, for example, the band shows it's certainly not all about finesse and filigree, norton whipping up a sandstorm and everyone quickly getting involved. there are spellbinding blasts of concentrated dissonance such as the one which kicks in at around 34 mins (can that be anyone other than the leader, dominating the sound there?). and comp. 214 has plenty of excitement of its own, a fabulous cacophony around 7.45 suddenly making me think of some immense shipyard, just for a few seconds... the musical landscape seems to shift so fast at this point in the proceedings that it's as if we are viewing it from a helicopter - which in turn is whisked around at the mercy of a gigantic length of elastic :)

well, you get the idea... i didn't give either disc my full and undivided attention, and if i had, i'm sure i could have written far more about the music... but it's always the case with this sort of thing that mapping the journey from start to finish would be inviting insanity. in any case, there were plenty of times when the sounds claimed my ears completely and drew me away from whatever i was doing - this, too, is always the case when i "listen"  this way. i love this music. enough said!

* see comments

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

broadcast from centrispace

rrrrright.... after the burst of enthusiasm summed up in the previous post, i found myself totally computerless for almost a week; maddeningly frustrating, but there it was - and just got back online yesterday. i am currently on one of my "holiday weeks", i.e. paid not to go to work but not actually away anywhere... alas, these weeks are not what they once were, not since parenthood... hence the "week" basically ended up being a morning and an afternoon. never mind, never mind... no, not enough time for any serious braxtothon work (and to think i once tried to spend a maximum of thirty mins on those write-ups..! fuck... lifetime ago... not that i usually managed to stick to the time limit anyway) - but then i still haven't quite got that one going again, have i? not yet - the station remains empty for the time being.

- but there is enough time to recapture some of that recent excitement, especially since we are now ten days further into spring... as well as catching up with some blog admin (see second section below) and detailing a few discographical corrections (... third... ) i have a few hours in which to write some stuff up, namely the ninetet braxbite (coming next) and the châteauvallon revisit (up after that). and listen to some music of course... well, that's the plan anyway.

incidentally... one could be forgiven for not noticing, but i did FINALLY get that stubborn, unwilling-to-be-birthed john tchicai concert piece done. (the post which followed was a sort of afterthought.) don't bother reading if you're looking for a detailed account of mr tchicai's playing (or indeed of anyone else's...) ;-)


as previously noted, the recent restructuring at restructures meant that all my links to the discog were gone, 404'd... and i set myself to fixing that, starting from the beginning... and got further than i had expected by the time we lost the computer. i've had another crack at these this morning and i now find myself (in blog admin terms, you understand, not in braxtothon time) in april 2008. which is actually not such a bad place to hang out, since that, too, was a pretty happy and well-aspected time (*1). the three playlists are all done, by the way, properly linked up for the first time ever. (*2)


with my (generally) shit workrate i'm not necessarily the best man for the job, but i could work well as part of a team: those new braxton house boots offer some fascinating gems, mostly new discoveries for me, but there aren't half some corrigenda. (and to be fair they do put forward the customary disclaimer.) what i am still curious (i.e. unenlightened) about is at which point the communication broke down. jason guthartz and jon piper are both on the board at tricentric now, i see (which is great - very encouraging). but apparently the tracklists for the boots just went onto the page as found, without anyone running them past b's (self-appointed) discographer and gigographer (*3). time musta been tight! anyway... let's hope that we can all get that sorted out in the fullness of time, and meanwhile, i shall do my bit and report on my findings as they are made (*4).

the story so far:

a) solo (france) 1971. this is the strangest of the bunch, since j's entry for the recording must be very recent, yet his tracklist is different from the one that accompanies the recording. i have already mentioned the corrections which come next, albeit tucked away in a comment on an old post where hardly anyone was gonna find them: the first two pieces, as is stated everywhere, were included on the "rarities" compilation news from the 70s (every home... etc) where they are identified as comps. 8c and 8g respectively; these have been re-examined at some point, and jason now gives them as comp. 26d and comp. 8b. this is not, of course, what it says on the NBH bootleg page so i double-checked, using the solo alto albums for reference, and satisfied myself that the identifications at restructures are correct. well spotted, whoever got those... (i haven't yet checked the id's for the three "new" tracks, given the same way in both places... it's on my to-do list... yes, i know...)

b) quartet (avignon) 1974. jg is happy to endorse the (truncated) tracklist for this one, but differs as to precise date (20th vs. 21st july). the idea of a 35-min rendering of my old mate comp. 6i seemed pretty unlikely but sure enough, that's exactly what it is - and it is fantastic, consistently gripping and filled with stuff i've never heard before but not, apparently, taking in any other primary territories (or indeed secondary ones, at least not named territories as opposed to spontaneous outgrowths). HIGHly recommended...

... but whatever the second piece is, it's not comp. 6l as far as i can see. the distinctive "slow-stepping" theme is entirely absent - and it is above all this device which characterises that piece (*5). but it's still really good. it's also pretty surreal because at a certain point [only listened to that one this morning but have already forgotten the time, i'm afraid] the sound "of" a synth or electronic processor kicks in and proceeds to modulate slowly up and down in (sort of) time with the music, i.e. in a fashion absolutely, nay quintessentially braxton (and i don't use that word lightly, nor will you read it hear often) - yet in 1974? just a howling ghost which took refuge in the recording at some stage during the (tediously long and involved) transfer lineage... or was mr teitelbaum involved, suddenly popping up at the side of the stage? surely that would be listed on the info, partially inaccurate as it is; and besides it really doesn't sound like him... perhaps a teenage masami akita was in europe at this time (he wasn't) and gatecrashed the stage with a modified theremin... anyway... it's all good, whatever it is, lots of energy at this point in the quartet's existence, and it all still sounds as fresh as the day it was recorded (obviously).

c) quartet (bremen) 1975 - i already wrote pretty, ah, extensively about this one so i'm not gonna repeat myself... i have actually downloaded this version as well just to see what the differences are in presentation/editing (folly ftsw's needed quite a bit of work doing to it in that regard) but haven't even opened the file yet. [actually i'm in 1993 right now "listening" to the great quartet - not that one, see f) and g) below - every time i focus in on it for a bit (instead of blathering to the great god blog) i realise how absolutely incredible this music is/was/will (always) be] - no diff's between TCF and guthartz.

d) quartet (graz) 1976 - nice to have a complete listing for this one. but, as i have already shown (and shall continue showing..!) the identification of the long third file as comp. 40l/comp. 40d is not necessarily 100% reliable, and i haven't checked it (yet). guthartz has it the same.

e) orchestra (paris) 1978 - haha, off the topic a bit but the sound on this one is so shit that even a guerilla commentator (i.e. non-audiophile) like me has not yet found the stomach to listen to it... shame as it's a really fucking great band (i must speak again to mr naughton re this one)

f) quartet (new york) 1993 - set 1 - that's not 40m, that's rather comp. 40k second up...

g) quartet (new york) 1993 - set 2 - ... and that is actually comp. 69b kicking off the second set, not 69m. no trouble identifying that one, since i'd already had to locate it when the same quartet, minus leader, played it first up (i think ms crispell likes this one) at the tribute concert last year. (the next two selections, comps. 23c/40(o) were rather less imaginative choices... and/but who knows where they were heading when b. jumped onstage and took them into/towards "impressions")  - there is also a simple and clear duet available for comparison. [69m sounds totally different, a fast and playful theme typical of the quartet(s) with ray anderson.]

- this was also the only number on which i id'd a secondary territory, in this case comp. 6n which is played with the bow by dresser (beautifully - as if that needed to be said).

(restructures rather sensibly chooses not to commit at all on these)

- there is bound to be some collaging going on here (both sets) but maybe not so much. what really typifies this band - other than the sheer "incredibility" factor alluded to in c) above - is the clean economy of it, all the players so well and truly grown up by now that they can get right inside the music without needing to break sweat and make life extra-challenging for themselves, hence there doesn't seem to be much collaging, not compared with 1985.

and they really do get right inside the music... utterly wonderful... and you know what, the band didn't just play one night on that engagement, they played the night before as well (and was that it? or did it continue all weekend, a mini-residency just like our man specialises in - whenever he gets the chance..?) - this one is not up at TCF but i have just (yesterday) got hold of it and again both sets are complete and the sound fidelity is extremely good. and no, i can't put numbers to any of it yet and although some of it is defintiely familiar, i haven't tried - the coalface has moved much deeper in than the four songbooks now, and my learning edge is still trapped back there in 1976 (or edging round the corner into '77 depending on how you look at it)... listing concert sets from this era is very very hard and i'll gladly shake the hand of anyone that even (seriously) attempts it - many themes sound similar, at least prima facie (but 'twas ever thus, and not just with this composer), and there are many to choose from, some of them only popping up in the discog once and others perhaps not at all... nightmare... but we'll get there i expect..!


and that's that for the time being... there will be more... end of "holiday" but ah, spring at last  :)

* see comments

Sunday, March 6, 2011

hope springs...

did i say january? it just didn't happen for some reason - well, probably because i still wasn't ready to wean myself off comics just yet, but in any case, with the exception of a couple of days, the planned january braxblitz failed to materialise. but that's ok 'cos the time was (basically) well spent and besides, as it turns out, march 2011 is braxton month, how could it be otherwise when the first of the month brought news of the tricentric foundation's "official relaunch" via the public unveiling of the new website..? - i spent the rest of the evening listening to music, starting with the free download (which is fucking great btw, grab it if you haven't yet done so... never fall into the trap of thinking that you have "enough/too much gtm already": each reading is just one among many such possible, literally anything could turn up, just show up out of the blue like that... old faces, old tunes, old old old atavistic dances round long-dead fires... and also new new new since, let's not forget, most other musics are still lagging way behind this sort of stuff. in terms of sheer ideas per minute gtm is way up the top of a pretty rarefied list as i understand it *) and going from there, mailing a few people i know partly or mainly through a shared interest in b's music; - and remembering yet again something which i seem to have somehow forgotten over the last few months, which is how to use this music purely to give myself a lift, to fill my head and heart with joy... and it's always just there waiting for me, but at some point along the line it came to be that i could no longer approach a braxton recording purely with feelings of pleasurable anticipation since there was always a feeling at the back of my mind that it could very possibly lead to more work. having been an unhappy teenager i have a very troubled relationship with this concept, one to which many more solidly-based adults reconcile themselves early on (and thus come to welcome it... up to a point); well, anyway, i'm trying, i'm constantly trying and it's beginning to look as if i might be getting somewhere...

... and this comes at the same time as all this other new growth - i am very happy to celebrate the new venture and will look forward to helping out if i can... i have corresponded briefly with thb during the last week and the blog will eventually be linked directly from the site - and there may turn out to be other ways of getting more involved, ways which don't entail immediate relocation to the states..! (although...) anyway, for the time being, it's enough to join in the general rejoicing and good-luck wishes, may the foundation flourish and reach many lives! {{{{@@@@@}}}}

- and enough to get back on that good-time vibe, because i wasn't just exaggerating or bullshitting that time before (nor was it the first such time... as i implied), this man's music is not entertainment for me, nor is it even mere brain-fodder, it is actually food, energetic and spiritual nourishment which on some occasions i swear i can actually feel seeping into all my pores and cleansing everything... that's just how it is with this guy... what can i say. i can't promise to fix my work hangup just like that, but i have continued listening to b's music all through the week (working my way through the tcf's as-yet-small collection of boots, for a start!) and there's been no sense of a chore about any of it. long may it continue... and bring on the spring :))


STOP PRESS- STOP PRESS - jason guthartz has recently had to divide the discography over two pages. (it was taking time to load.) that means that until such time as i get the chance to fix the links, all links to the discog in my posts are invalid. i will correct at least the main links appearing in braxtothon entries starting with the earliest, starting today, and those of you who know my rate of progress by now will know better than to wait around for it... but i am on it. thanks for listening :)