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Re: review: Braxton Twelvetet, Free Music Festival, Antwerp

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  • Bart
    1. Just to keep things ballanced & fair : next week I ll receive 2 other reviews from other Belgian newspapers. Although I haven t read them, apparently the
    Message 1 of 7 , Sep 1 8:45 AM
      1. Just to keep things ballanced & fair : next week I'll receive 2
      other reviews from other Belgian newspapers. Although I haven't read
      them, apparently the reviewers this time don't disappoint & do justice
      to the performance. I'll post translations ASAP. We don't want the
      world to think Belgium lacks good reviewers.

      2. Andrew, could you elaborate more about the 'innovation' subject?
      You state "Truly innovative music is rarely seen as such at the time
      of its creation, and coincidentally, generally seems to meet with
      resistance, like this review...". That the concert was innovating
      vis-a-vis mainstream-music is of course obvious, but would you call it
      innovating vis-a-vis Braxtons own catalogue?


      greetings,
      bart

      --- In Anthony_BRAXTON@yahoogroups.com, andrew raffo dewar
      <freemovementarts@g...> wrote:
      > Just returned from a wonderful (and musical) visit to Belgium and
      > Germany, to read that review from 'De Standaard' ---
      >
      > Wow, I think the headline of the below review should be "reviewer
      > dissapoints"....
      >
      > This guy clearly wanted some 1960s "fire and brimstone", since the
      > moments he mentions as positives were burning solos by AB and tubist
      > Jay Rozen (which were great, of course), and not the incredible
      > ensemble cohesiveness, creative, subtle use of compositional materials
      > and focus I felt deeply from the stage.
      >
      > We totally nailed the music, from my point of view (and Braxton's, for
      > that matter), and were working at a very high level in a "totally
      > operational" tri-centric fashion, with all three species (+
      > accelerator) of GTM as well as a wide variety of compositions from all
      > eras of AB's work, from Comp. 6J (which I played, ballad-like, on
      > c-melody, over a nice brass and percussion textural backdrop -- despite
      > a nasty cold and fever I was battling) all the way up to the "primary
      > territory" of the brand new Comp.348.
      >
      > It was not an extroverted "expressive" performance of individual
      > identity, but a deep example of group communication spawned from
      > individual creativity and a good understanding of the music system,
      > *realizing Braxton's compositions*, with the occasional fore-grounded
      > event. Sure, we could have gone out there and all blown our brains out
      > for an hour to make guys like this happy, but that isn't where the
      > music is at this point in time, and that's not what we were there to
      > do.
      >
      > In terms of this statement by the author, "the music did not sound
      > innovating" --- well, what does that even mean? If it "sounds
      > innovating" it probably isn't, in my opinion. Truly innovative music
      > is rarely seen as such at the time of its creation, and coincidentally,
      > generally seems to meet with resistance, like this review... : )
      >
      > I will agree with the writer that the sound in the hall was weird
      > (certain instruments' sounds "bloomed" much louder than others), so the
      > balance was definitely not so great in the room, though on stage it was
      > brilliant.
      >
      > I only hope the recording turned out well, because then 'friendly
      > experiencers' can decide for themselves.
      >
      > Best,
      >
      > Andrew
      >
      > __________________________
      >
      > andrew raffo dewar
      > music department
      > wesleyan university
      > middletown, ct 06459 usa
      > http://www.freemovementarts.com
      > __________________________
      >
      > On Aug 25, 2005, "Bart" <bartborgmans@h...> wrote:
      >
      > > Here's a (crappy) translated review from Belgian newspaper 'De
      > > Standaard' about the worldpremiere of the Braxton Twelvet on the 32nd
      > > Free Music Festival in Antwerp, 21/8/2005.
      > >
      > > "
      > > BRAXTON DISAPOINTS
      > >
      > > Everybody looked forward to the twelvetet of Anthony Braxton, who also
      > > celebrated his sixtieth anniversary. Braxton is a legendary
      > > anti-conformist in the contemporary music scene. He also has roots in
      > > jazz. Since he was appointed to the music department of the
      > > Weslyan University, Braxton has frequently worked with students. That
      > > was also the case this time. Back in the days he had a captivating
      > > quartet, comparing to which this twelvetet faded. This music did not
      > > sound innovating, and it lacked expressiveness and tension.
      > >
      > > Because they played acoustically, some instruments, such as the
      > > bassoon, simply got lost in the group. Braxton writes stubborn music,
      > > not music which entrances you. The music depends on the sound
      > > development, interaction and occasional finds. To make such music
      > > work, strong musical individuals are necessary. There were too
      > > little of them in this ensemble. The tuba player Jay Rozen gave the
      > > music sometimes a bit of speed, the brass section displayed some
      > > frivol wittiness and Braxton bursted loose on his saxophones once in a
      > > while, but in general there's wasn't much real playing pleasure going
      > > on.
      > > "
      > >
      > > I can see from what viewpoint this review is coming from, but I don't
      > > agree with most of it.
      > >
      > > Braxton could easily recreate past successes, but the fact that he
      > > doesn't and instead takes risks should've been considered by the
      > > reviewer.
      > >
      > > As far as the remark that the music wasn't innovating -- well, I can't
      > > really counter that, but I'd hope some people in here (who maybe
      > > listened more closely or have other information) can point out any
      > > innovation. I heard the laptop of course :)
    • andrew raffo dewar
      ... That s great, Bart, and much appreciated! I also don t mean to knock that reviewer too much -- like all reviewers, they are dealing with the experience
      Message 2 of 7 , Sep 1 11:38 AM
        --- In Anthony_BRAXTON@yahoogroups.com, "Bart" <bartborgmans@h...>
        wrote:

        > 1. Just to keep things ballanced & fair : next week I'll receive 2
        > other reviews from other Belgian newspapers...

        That's great, Bart, and much appreciated! I also don't mean to knock
        that reviewer too much -- like all reviewers, they are dealing with the
        experience from their point of view, and he was very clear about how he
        felt, given those parameters.

        >We don't want the world to think Belgium lacks good reviewers.

        Well, even if they did, Belgium more than makes up for it with great
        beer, food and people! : )

        > 2. Andrew, could you elaborate more about the
        'innovation'subject?....<snip>....
        >That the concert was innovating vis-a-vis mainstream-music is of course
        >obvious, but would you call it innovating vis-a-vis Braxton's own
        catalogue?

        I would call it a continuation (and maybe even a kind of "culmination")
        of the innovative
        music system AB began 40 years ago. From my point of view the 12tet
        was employing
        the "tri-centric" approach to great effect, which views all the
        compositions in the music system as
        a lexicon of structural materials that can be invoked/performed at any
        time separately or concurrently.
        This approach (as most of you know) started, I believe, with the
        flowing single continuous sets AB's
        4tet in the late 70s did (like "performance(4tet)1979" on hat art), and
        was taken to the
        next level with the '80s 4tet, who began to really use the "erector
        set" approach, mixing
        and matching pieces on the fly during performance.

        What is becoming more and more apparent to me is that it really is a
        living system that is
        internally coherent across these 40 yrs. and masses of compositions and
        ideas.

        It is seen by Braxton (on one level) as an imaginary geographic space,
        with compositions
        as cities and towns, sound regions as geographic "places", etc. In this
        "world" of the system,
        the GTM can be seen in one way as the "public transporation"-- a group
        of train lines, subways,
        express trains (the "accelerator" GTM) and so on. The mystical element
        and the "unexplainable" is also
        a region the system covers, with the "falling river music" imaginary
        notation and the "secondary pieces"
        of the new GTM being two of the more recent compositional examples. All
        these things can be drawn upon
        (or not drawn upon) in a performance. It's a system of nested layers
        that is incredibly dense
        with possible paths and readings, which is one thing that makes it so
        fun to play!

        As a result, I'm personally leaning towards a different way to assess
        this "system" in terms
        of its growth or 'innovation' -- not as a linear-ly developed
        "past-to-present" kind of
        thing, but more "amoebic", with all aspects of it existing
        simultaneously (we just can't 'see'
        some of it yet) and as vital parts to its make-up. So, as you wouldn't
        decide the "worth" or
        "quality" of a person simply by looking at their spleen or heart, but
        by looking at the whole
        being, both the physical and non-physical, that's how I've come to look
        at this music
        system.

        Hope that's a reasonably clear elaboration...

        Best,

        Andrew
      • B. Clugston
        I wonder if Mr. Fire and Brimstone is another case of free jazz snobbery. The irony is these people are just as conservative as the Marsalis/Crouch crowd.
        Message 3 of 7 , Sep 1 2:34 PM
          I wonder if Mr. Fire and Brimstone is another case of
          free jazz snobbery. The irony is these people are just
          as conservative as the Marsalis/Crouch crowd. Instead
          of painfully-recreated Ellington charts, it’s
          regurgitated themeless overblown blowouts that they
          demand. Nothing wrong with the original music in
          either case. But the 1960s avant-garde is being
          embalmed just as readily as what Marsalis considers
          jazz is.
          Speaking of fire and brimstone, I came across similar
          critical reaction in regards to the Braxton/Cyrille
          duets. One reviewer seemed to expect the Braxton of
          Birth and Rebirth vintage meeting up with the Cyrille
          of 1970 Cecil Taylor vintage. That wasn’t the point.

          Any idea who might release the concert if the
          recording turns out well?

          --- andrew raffo dewar <freemovementarts@...>
          wrote:


          ---------------------------------
          Just returned from a wonderful (and musical) visit to
          Belgium and
          Germany, to read that review from 'De Standaard' ---

          Wow, I think the headline of the below review should
          be "reviewer
          dissapoints"....

          This guy clearly wanted some 1960s "fire and
          brimstone", since the
          moments he mentions as positives were burning solos by
          AB and tubist
          Jay Rozen (which were great, of course), and not the
          incredible
          ensemble cohesiveness, creative, subtle use of
          compositional materials
          and focus I felt deeply from the stage.

          We totally nailed the music, from my point of view
          (and Braxton's, for
          that matter), and were working at a very high level in
          a "totally
          operational" tri-centric fashion, with all three
          species (+
          accelerator) of GTM as well as a wide variety of
          compositions from all
          eras of AB's work, from Comp. 6J (which I played,
          ballad-like, on
          c-melody, over a nice brass and percussion textural
          backdrop -- despite
          a nasty cold and fever I was battling) all the way up
          to the "primary
          territory" of the brand new Comp.348.

          It was not an extroverted "expressive" performance of
          individual
          identity, but a deep example of group communication
          spawned from
          individual creativity and a good understanding of the
          music system,
          *realizing Braxton's compositions*, with the
          occasional fore-grounded
          event. Sure, we could have gone out there and all
          blown our brains out
          for an hour to make guys like this happy, but that
          isn't where the
          music is at this point in time, and that's not what we
          were there to
          do.

          In terms of this statement by the author, "the music
          did not sound
          innovating" --- well, what does that even mean? If it
          "sounds
          innovating" it probably isn't, in my opinion. Truly
          innovative music
          is rarely seen as such at the time of its creation,
          and coincidentally,
          generally seems to meet with resistance, like this
          review... : )

          I will agree with the writer that the sound in the
          hall was weird
          (certain instruments' sounds "bloomed" much louder
          than others), so the
          balance was definitely not so great in the room,
          though on stage it was
          brilliant.

          I only hope the recording turned out well, because
          then 'friendly
          experiencers' can decide for themselves.

          Best,

          Andrew

          __________________________

          andrew raffo dewar
          music department
          wesleyan university
          middletown, ct 06459 usa
          http://www.freemovementarts.com
          __________________________

          On Aug 25, 2005, "Bart" <bartborgmans@...>
          wrote:

          > Here's a (crappy) translated review from Belgian
          newspaper 'De
          > Standaard' about the worldpremiere of the Braxton
          Twelvet on the 32nd
          > Free Music Festival in Antwerp, 21/8/2005.
          >
          > "
          > BRAXTON DISAPOINTS
          >
          > Everybody looked forward to the twelvetet of Anthony
          Braxton, who also
          > celebrated his sixtieth anniversary. Braxton is a
          legendary
          > anti-conformist in the contemporary music scene. He
          also has roots in
          > jazz. Since he was appointed to the music department
          of the
          > Weslyan University, Braxton has frequently worked
          with students. That
          > was also the case this time. Back in the days he had
          a captivating
          > quartet, comparing to which this twelvetet faded.
          This music did not
          > sound innovating, and it lacked expressiveness and
          tension.
          >
          > Because they played acoustically, some instruments,
          such as the
          > bassoon, simply got lost in the group. Braxton
          writes stubborn music,
          > not music which entrances you. The music depends on
          the sound
          > development, interaction and occasional finds. To
          make such music
          > work, strong musical individuals are necessary.
          There were too
          > little of them in this ensemble. The tuba player Jay
          Rozen gave the
          > music sometimes a bit of speed, the brass section
          displayed some
          > frivol wittiness and Braxton bursted loose on his
          saxophones once in a
          > while, but in general there's wasn't much real
          playing pleasure going
          > on.
          > "
          >
          > I can see from what viewpoint this review is coming
          from, but I don't
          > agree with most of it.
          >
          > Braxton could easily recreate past successes, but
          the fact that he
          > doesn't and instead takes risks should've been
          considered by the
          > reviewer.
          >
          > As far as the remark that the music wasn't
          innovating -- well, I can't
          > really counter that, but I'd hope some people in
          here (who maybe
          > listened more closely or have other information) can
          point out any
          > innovation. I heard the laptop of course :)



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        • Franz Fuchs
          From today s Downtown Music Gallery newsletter ... DAHINDEN/KLEEB QUARTET - Anthony Braxton (+Duke Ellington)/Concept of Freedom (Hat Now 614) Featuring Roland
          Message 4 of 7 , Sep 2 9:16 AM
            From today's Downtown Music Gallery newsletter
            (downtownmusicgallery.com/Main/news/Newsletter-2005-09-02.html):

            ---
            DAHINDEN/KLEEB QUARTET - Anthony Braxton (+Duke Ellington)/Concept of
            Freedom (Hat Now 614) Featuring Roland Dahinden on trombone, Hildegard
            Kleeb on piano, Dimitris Polisoidis on violin and Robert Holdrich on
            electronics. Mr. Dahinden is a composer and performer who has worked
            with and played the music of Mr. Braxton in the past. His partner,
            classical pianist Hildegard Kleeb has also performed Braxton's music in
            the past, as well as Morton Feldman and Christian Wolff. Besides the
            fact that Duke Ellington & Anthony Braxton are both geniuses in their
            own ways, they are also wonderful composers, musicians and visionaries.
            Braxton's "Comp. No. 257" sounds like "Ghost Trance Music", but is
            played by a fine quartet without Mr. Braxton's guidance. This piece is
            done spaciously, without that unrelenting pulse. The notes are stretched
            out at times, giving this a more relaxed, thoughtful feeling with more
            space between the notes. It also has that modern classical vibe where
            each note is placed ever so carefully. In the third section, the haze of
            electronic and trombone drones begin to add a dark undercurrent as the
            chaotic piano soon takes a very "out" solo. Snippets of Duke
            Ellington's musical fragments are interspersed within ongoing framework
            Braxton's evolving work. It is seamlessly connected. The sound mass is
            often magical and mysterious and difficult to figure out, yet Huguette
            and I find it completely fascinating. - BLG
            ---
          • Franz Fuchs
            [Hank Jones plays on Seven Standards 1985 Vol. 1 & 2] ... September 2, 2005 History, Heard From the Inside By BEN RATLIFF FOR Hank Jones, the last 60 years of
            Message 5 of 7 , Sep 3 4:10 AM
              [Hank Jones plays on Seven Standards 1985 Vol. 1 & 2]

              ---
              September 2, 2005
              History, Heard From the Inside
              By BEN RATLIFF

              FOR Hank Jones, the last 60 years of jazz is not best explained by
              records. The entire period seems to be retained in his own head: a labor
              history of all the jam-session, studio, one-night and concert-hall gigs
              he has played since moving to New York in 1944.

              Mr. Jones, a pianist, has been one of the hardest and most consistent
              workers in the history of jazz. As a result, his focused, organized,
              subtle touch - one device is to turn up the energy of his improvising
              while still playing softly - shows up everywhere in the music.

              It begins with a Hot Lips Page session in 1944 and works through Charlie
              Parker and Billy Eckstine and Artie Shaw and Ella Fitzgerald. The trail
              dims a bit in the 1960's - he was working as a staff musician at CBS
              from 1955 to 1972 - but resumes in the mid-1970's, with a serious
              renewal of his trio playing.

              Mr. Jones's long list of accomplishments ends, for now, with Joe
              Lovano's spectacular new quartet, in which he plays with the bassist
              George Mraz and the drummer Paul Motian, and with a new trio album, "For
              My Father," under his own name. Mr. Jones has become natural-sounding,
              as if hitting the highest level of small-group jazz playing was like
              riding a bicycle. He has the sound of wisdom.

              Mr. Jones, 87, rarely listens to jazz at his home in Hartwick, N.Y.,
              near Cooperstown, where he lives with his wife, Theodosia. When he isn't
              working, he prefers to practice, two to four hours a day. This isn't so
              surprising. What's the point of accepting a mediated version of jazz,
              when you can trace its family tree through your own life and work? (If
              you had been around Nat King Cole as a fellow musician, as Mr. Jones
              was, and heard him play at his best in jam sessions, most Nat King Cole
              records might sound to you like contrivances.) Anyway, Mr. Jones likes
              to keep his focus on what is to be done tomorrow.
              ---

              More:

              http://makeashorterlink.com/?D1F933ABB

              or

              nytimes.com/2005/09/02/arts/music/02jone.html?ex=1283313600&en=763e43455
              24559c6&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss (Userland link for general
              access.)
            • Timo Hoyer
              I agree completly with you, Andrew. The Twelvetet was amazing. Very very subtle, beautiful, dense, and complex. No fire music of course, but intense music on
              Message 6 of 7 , Sep 7 9:59 AM
                I agree completly with you, Andrew. The Twelvetet was amazing. Very very subtle, beautiful, dense, and complex. No fire music of course, but intense music on the highest level. With great moments by AB, Taylor, Jay, Jessica (is she the daughter of Mario P.?) and Andrew. But actually this is ensemble music, very different from the earlier GTMs (1996-2001) and very different from anything I know. What else as innovative??
                The sound was not perfect, sure, but I even have heard the bassoon as well as the harp, the flutes.
                AB told me that he will try to hold this half femal-half male ensemble together because it fullfils the 12 parts of his system. That means: The future looks bright!
                All the best,
                Timo
                ----- Original Message -----
                From: andrew raffo dewar
                To: Anthony_BRAXTON@yahoogroups.com
                Sent: Wednesday, August 31, 2005 5:45 PM
                Subject: [Braxton] Re:review:Braxton Twelvetet, Free Music Festival, Antwerp


                Just returned from a wonderful (and musical) visit to Belgium and
                Germany, to read that review from 'De Standaard' ---

                Wow, I think the headline of the below review should be "reviewer
                dissapoints"....

                This guy clearly wanted some 1960s "fire and brimstone", since the
                moments he mentions as positives were burning solos by AB and tubist
                Jay Rozen (which were great, of course), and not the incredible
                ensemble cohesiveness, creative, subtle use of compositional materials
                and focus I felt deeply from the stage.

                We totally nailed the music, from my point of view (and Braxton's, for
                that matter), and were working at a very high level in a "totally
                operational" tri-centric fashion, with all three species (+
                accelerator) of GTM as well as a wide variety of compositions from all
                eras of AB's work, from Comp. 6J (which I played, ballad-like, on
                c-melody, over a nice brass and percussion textural backdrop -- despite
                a nasty cold and fever I was battling) all the way up to the "primary
                territory" of the brand new Comp.348.

                It was not an extroverted "expressive" performance of individual
                identity, but a deep example of group communication spawned from
                individual creativity and a good understanding of the music system,
                *realizing Braxton's compositions*, with the occasional fore-grounded
                event. Sure, we could have gone out there and all blown our brains out
                for an hour to make guys like this happy, but that isn't where the
                music is at this point in time, and that's not what we were there to
                do.

                In terms of this statement by the author, "the music did not sound
                innovating" --- well, what does that even mean? If it "sounds
                innovating" it probably isn't, in my opinion. Truly innovative music
                is rarely seen as such at the time of its creation, and coincidentally,
                generally seems to meet with resistance, like this review... : )

                I will agree with the writer that the sound in the hall was weird
                (certain instruments' sounds "bloomed" much louder than others), so the
                balance was definitely not so great in the room, though on stage it was
                brilliant.

                I only hope the recording turned out well, because then 'friendly
                experiencers' can decide for themselves.

                Best,

                Andrew

                __________________________

                andrew raffo dewar
                music department
                wesleyan university
                middletown, ct 06459 usa
                http://www.freemovementarts.com
                __________________________

                On Aug 25, 2005, "Bart" <bartborgmans@...> wrote:

                > Here's a (crappy) translated review from Belgian newspaper 'De
                > Standaard' about the worldpremiere of the Braxton Twelvet on the 32nd
                > Free Music Festival in Antwerp, 21/8/2005.
                >
                > "
                > BRAXTON DISAPOINTS
                >
                > Everybody looked forward to the twelvetet of Anthony Braxton, who also
                > celebrated his sixtieth anniversary. Braxton is a legendary
                > anti-conformist in the contemporary music scene. He also has roots in
                > jazz. Since he was appointed to the music department of the
                > Weslyan University, Braxton has frequently worked with students. That
                > was also the case this time. Back in the days he had a captivating
                > quartet, comparing to which this twelvetet faded. This music did not
                > sound innovating, and it lacked expressiveness and tension.
                >
                > Because they played acoustically, some instruments, such as the
                > bassoon, simply got lost in the group. Braxton writes stubborn music,
                > not music which entrances you. The music depends on the sound
                > development, interaction and occasional finds. To make such music
                > work, strong musical individuals are necessary. There were too
                > little of them in this ensemble. The tuba player Jay Rozen gave the
                > music sometimes a bit of speed, the brass section displayed some
                > frivol wittiness and Braxton bursted loose on his saxophones once in a
                > while, but in general there's wasn't much real playing pleasure going
                > on.
                > "
                >
                > I can see from what viewpoint this review is coming from, but I don't
                > agree with most of it.
                >
                > Braxton could easily recreate past successes, but the fact that he
                > doesn't and instead takes risks should've been considered by the
                > reviewer.
                >
                > As far as the remark that the music wasn't innovating -- well, I can't
                > really counter that, but I'd hope some people in here (who maybe
                > listened more closely or have other information) can point out any
                > innovation. I heard the laptop of course :)



                Unsubscr.: Anthony_BRAXTON-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
                http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Anthony_BRAXTON



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