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

* see first comment
* see second comment
*** see third comment


centrifuge said...

ouf... "phew"...

yes, anyway, so what happened was: ran outta steam, never quite got back to it, nightmares at work (and at home) pushed it all from my mind. and for once, next time i got high, i started to relisten to the pine top aerial music and stopped, about ninety second in, suddenly sure that i wasn't quite ready for material of this density. i stepped down a gear or two, slipped back to metal and grindcore, and the following day(s) i scarcely listened at all.

tonight, i warmed up with some "old faves", including the opener from *dragon's head* by mary halvorson and "a blues" from the thb sextet's wunder-gig - then dived straight into quartet (santa cruz) 1993, continuing my 2013 (premature!) re-exploration of my desert island band, and typed up the post to that, in its majestic entirety. marvellous, extraordinary music.

centrifuge said...

1. ok, so i'm still not saying i'm 100% convinced that this one totally makes it *as an album*. but fuck that, side two opens with the "perfected" version of the mighty
comp. 23e, and there's no way that's not making the list.

2. yes, all of it. this double is included precisely *as an album*

3. remember, i have no quibble with
morton and cook awarding this album one of their (apparently) coveted crowns; but in so doing they just drew attention to the lack of star against the iridium box. lack of understanding right there

4. remember, this album infuses this 'ere post. listen closer ;-)

5. included seemingly at random, out of stacks of ultra-amazing duo encounters. but i was so struck on first hearing by what a total natural pairing they make, how perfect an interpreter larner is of b's aesthetic (somewhat counter-intuitively, as far as his instrument goes) - this puts him in a class with lewis and gino robair (and...?)

centrifuge said...

mitchell, duets... argh, fuck, yes yes I KNOW. backing off has been putting it mildly. to be fair, it's been a crazy fucken few years is all i can say. it has never been the case that it won't get done. (dub-negz r us.) IT WILL GET DONE.

no, i don't know when.

centrifuge said...

few things just occur to me on re-reading all this blather:

a) it's actually twenty-five entries, 27 albums really since the '85 uk tour is commemorated (now, in terms of current availability) in three separate releases. but, you know, i've pretty much made it clear that i won't give houseroom to the idea that one only needs one of those albums, or anything of the sort... and this remains the case ;-)

b) i actually found out the next day that i only listened to the first three quarters of *santa cruz*. not sure how that last set got missed, the fucken post took long enuff to construct ;-) all those sodding hyperlinks. yeah, like i don't enjoy it when i'm the mood :)

c) what i said about brett larner (comment 2.5 above) is bollocks, really - i mean that the koto is an unlikely instrument for b's music or whatever... says far more about my (ultra-)limited experience of japanese music than anything else, this smacks me in the face when i re-read my own comment..! anyway, as luck would have it i'm just finishing off another spin of that album "as we speak" and i can confirm: still sounds fresh as a daisy, and crackles with connective and creative energies :-D

zenkojiman said...

A top 25 list, Cent: you'll be doing a Desert Island Discs set next. But you don't surprise me THAT much - not a 'Standards' album in sight!?
Relieved to find I have some of your choices. The 2005 duet with Fred Frith is a good one, bubbling under, as they used to say.

centrifuge said...

hello dear boy :) 'twas of course you who prompted all this, ultimately..!

no standards... well, no... which is not to say i don't enjoy b's treatment of standards (frequently do, these days) but i really don't (as yet) have a favourite *whole album* of them - APART from the charlie parker project of course, not quite sure why you don't consider that an album of standards ;-)

there is more on the way i hope. meanwhile i am always happy to hear from you! hope i find you well...

zenkojiman said...

Well enough to be happy to take some credit for the creation of this list, thanks Cent ...

Fair enough about the Parker Project. The Monk book I'd definitely see as 'standards' because so many jazz musicians have used them to huge effect, sometimes even (Steve Lacy?) almost to build careers on. The free pianist Alex von Schlippenbach has even (with his Monk's Casino band) covered the entire opus on a three album live set. And AB has done his bit of course. Look forward to any more such selections: your 'duets' would be really intriguing. Can't wait.

centrifuge said...

i was planning to do something about duets a while ago - something general, not a list of the "best" ones as such. (this would be terribly hard anyway: b. excels in this format and besides, i haven't heard quite a few of the recent ones.) right now i am afflicted by one of my periodic "paralyses" though, finding it impossible to write or, frankly, to do much with myself... it won't last forever.

i did consider the monk album, which was actually the first braxton album i ever bought/heard... wasn't sure about it though. as for the monk "songbook" - well, these pieces are standards par excellence, they have long since become required repertoire for pianists in particular... the name most egregiously missing from your shortlist above is that of misha mengelberg, who plays monk in practically every concert he performs. but of course there are many albums of monk covers kicking around and numerous musicians who could now lay claim to being experienced interpreters of his work...

centrifuge said...

actually wtf am i talking about, it's 30 albums, yoshi's ninetets are (thus far) collected on four separate double cds... ouf :-S

(the ((round here) notorious) duo album with roscoe probably shouldn't be on here anyway of course - it's mitchell's release, after all..! - told you it was imperfect)

Nuage fiché qui rêve said...

Nice surprise to see the duets with Brett Larner in your list.

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