Sunday, May 26, 2013

next-level studies, inst. 1: duo update

[y'see, the order with which all this gets revealed and clarified even for me is of crucial importance in this sort of work, never mind the decisions and strategies concerning the order in which the information is then encoded and disseminated(ish) to you guys, the listening readership-at-large (*1);

- next comes another mini-burst of several linked posts, on a contextual-conceptual development-based theme:]

ONE of these days, i will i will, i will actually put up the much-delayed-and-further-delayed student studies 3 post (of course, it might ease the process if i wrote it first...). meanwhile, we are stuck back at the level of scholarship as notified here, two short-long years ago plus weeks-and-counting, so that the most important conclusion from the readings i had done throughout the published braxton materials at this time - namely the centrality of the duet, as opposed to the solo concert - never yet got published. two years, some weeks and counting. [it's not really such a big deal, is it... let's all remember, the reason we can justifiably use a term like avant-garde is cos the rest of the world still aint catchin up any time soon. i say let's all remember, i never got round to that post either (i.e. the state of the term avant-garde *2 and whether there is yet any utility in deploying it)]

so anyway, without further ado and all that, here it (belatedly) is:

1. when "they said" ("they" being the scottish critic in this case) that braxton's continuing creativity and longevity is fuelled by his frequent returns to the good old american songbook, they were way off target. ok, this bit isn't actually anything to do with the update is it. that's true, but:

2. when i said (passim up till that point, though mainly on and around the old radio 3 jazz messagebored) that what actually fuelled said continuing creativity and longevity was b's frequent solo recitals, i was wrong also. haha, actually - as i found out when i read some of the interview materials appended to the books of composition notes - those solo concerts were really just a pragmatic way of getting around the euro tour circuit on the (ultra-)cheap, i.e. travelling and playing alone, and knowing that if and when even a friendly promoter was weighing up whether to book a "free" act they would immediately be thinking in terms of the number of people onstage as separate hungry open mouths, the obvious conclusion was to sell himself as act which could always be booked solo. this, in turn, quickly became reputed as an act well worth seeing, so that no-one ever really had to worry too much about whether anyone would turn up for it and sit through it; and besides, it was hardly unique by that point anyway. (the aacm, they really knew what they were about. let's all be clear on that for a sec)

3. - no, what actually actually fuelled said continuing creativity and longevity was:




en bref, then: the reading material updated me about the fact that playing solo gigs frequently wasn't (ultimately) anything much to do with spiritual advancement or refreshment or anything else (albeit these were beneficial side-effects), it was driven primarily by economics, and backed up by considerable nerve and courage (albeit both born of grizzled and road-tested experience); it was only later (or was it? *3) that i concluded that actually the duets were where it is at in terms of the major long-distance deep-reserve fuel source. again, to sum up: exploring an open space with one other mind and voice is a unique opportunity which is entirely different from the trio, where all sorts of further dimensions are opened in terms of sub-relationships and extrapolations, either in different directions or with different weighting or balancing; and if the trio represents a different paradigm then how much more is that true of the quartet, and onwards and upwards... no, the duet encounter offers possibilities which can only come and go within larger ensembles. two minds together - where minds now encompasses hearts, guts, voices and every other damn thing - the upward spiral, the virtuous circle, that begins here. ground zero.

and that concludes inst. 1

stay tuned ;-)

c x

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Thursday, May 2, 2013

(meanwhile) a vanity mirror

the ridiculous thing is, for once i actually did what i said i was gonna do, the very next day - laboriously copied back over the lion's share of my "braxtonphiles" to the re-virginised laptop, - and indexed them all properly this time dammit (grrrrr... chsuis une asperge) - then settled down at last and played april's tcf downloads, the two new(ish) ones... and was, indeed, utterly enchanted and charmed and delighted by the whole experience. so much so, that i did indeed start writing about it at once... then never quite had time to finish it, ... and so didn't. (yet) *

meanwhile - one thing i teased about back at the beginning of my hot streak was the possibility of a "best of braxton" list after all these years of refusing even to entertain the idea. i drafted one at the time, but bugger me if i could find it this evening so i'll just do another one. after all, it merely involves speed-reading the restructures recording index (which i have never found a chore!) and the whole point is not to fetishise the bloody thing beyond absolute basic "necessity". it's incomplete, it's imperfect and i hope i will spend the rest of my life adding to it, but:

for alto
complete braxton 1971 (first true quartets)
town hall 1972 (trio and quintet)
4 comps 1973 (jap.)   {{magnifying glass}}
new york fall 1974  (remember other reviews are available!)
five pieces 1975 *1
montreux/berlin (both early quartets, orch.) *2
creative orch. 1976
elements of surprise (w/lewis)
duets w/braxton (mitchell) ***
comp. 98
london-birmingham-coventry 1985 (great quartet)
victoriaville '88
2 comps järvenpää '88
eugene 89 *3
seven comps trio '89 (roidinger, oxley)
willisau 1991  (great quartet)
trio london 93 (parker, rutherford)
quartet santa cruz 93  (great quartet) *4
charlie parker project
duets with brett larner 95 *5
comp. 192 (w/lauren newton)
yoshi's ninetets 97 (all)
quintet london 2004 (thb, mary h.)
iridium box set 2006  (12+1tet)

[non-album, super-boot special mention: trio pisa 1982 (bailey, lewis) ]

- like i say: it's incomplete, it's imperfect
the whole point is not to fetishise the bloody thing
- but it happens to include twenty-five albums, and for what it's worth, these listed above are the recorded albums which i believe capture our maestro at his highest level qua maker of albums. and yes, that's my quasi-professional, guerilla-musicologist's assessment (rather than a wholly subjective, emotionally-contaminated personal opinion).

... there's tons of other stuff which very probably belongs on there (solos and duos really cry out for their own lists; hell, we could do one just of duet recordings with bassists). some of it i haven't heard enough, or haven't heard recently; some stuff i still haven't heard at all, of course. the syntactical ghost trance choir very probably belongs in there, but technically (ahhhhh...fergodsake) i haven't heard it, only the boot. [gtm (syntax) 2003 is erroneously titled, among minor but irksome distractions i find in the album's production on this occasion, otherwise it would pretty much be a shoo-in. mrs testa, anne rhodes belongs in there somewhere for sure :) ]

that's me for the time being... more on the way though... and btw i'm right now downloading this month's aural treat :)))

cent x

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