FW: Braxton and stand up comedian... no joke
- -----Original Message-----
On Behalf Of Steve Smith
Sent: Thursday, May 31, 2001 5:26 AM
To: Zorn-List (E-mail)
Subject: Braxton and stand up comedian... no joke
Just released on CIMP is 'Four Compositions (Duets) 2000' by Anthony
and Alex Horwitz. Braxton is credited with alto and soprano saxes,
clarinet, and contrabass clarinet; Horowitz with voice. The six tracks
1. Composition 281 (12:52) - dedicated to Master Comedian Jonathan
2. Composition 282 (34:30) - dedicated to Master Comedian Henny Youngman
3. Composition 282 (part 2) (13:21)
4. Composition 280 (2:59) - dedicated to Master Comedian Flip Wilson
5. Composition 283 (2:38) - dedicated to Master Comedian Lenny Bruce
6. Composition 281 (part 2) (7:36)
And indeed, Bob Rusch refers in his liner notes as having found the idea
Braxton recording with a stand-up comedian "so off the wall I couldn't
immediately dismiss it." Alex Horwitz is apparently a 20-year-old
student and sometime member of a campus improv-comedy troupe Desperate
Now, look, I'm as willing as anyone to follow Braxton into some of the
likely circumstances. I'll always trust him and give him a LOT of rope.
And I can see the potential for a musician performing with an
speaker or actor.
But on a single listen to about half the disc, all I can say is that I'm
bit baffled. To be fair, I don't think it's really meant to be funny.
Braxton's notes talk about the speaker having certain "target subject
choices" for improvising upon. There are lots of references to such
strategies and procedures as "SCHEDULE MARKER ANNOUNCEMENT
(all caps his usage), "composition convergence connections," "imprint
codes," and so on. Rusch, in a fit of either vagueness or openminded
fairness, writes, "Interesting also were the various facets that are
in the improvisation depending on how the listener approaches the
experience. And to be able to expose may of those facets I found it
necessary to consciously divorce myself from the language of the words
listen instead to the music of the words - not an instinctive thing for
or, I'd guess, most listeners."
Maybe I'm getting old and uptight, but what it sounds like is a Braxton
session backing a bad evening at The Improv. Imagine the kind of
situational observations that Jerry Seinfeld makes, at their most inane.
Imagine if Ken Nordine weren't hip. Imagine Andy Rooney on 60 Minutes,
even more to the point, Charles Grodin on 60 Minutes II. And while it's
completely wrong for me to weigh in with an overall assessment when I've
yet made it all the way through the disc, I will say with absolute
confidence and conviction that the segment early on about the DVD is
I haven't given up on the disc. Honest to God, I'll try harder. And I
the fact that Braxton namechecks Mingus, Sun Ra, John Cage (performed by
man David Tudor"!), and Nordine in a single explanatory paragraph.
Sometimes even when I don't like the way a piece sounds, I still love
way Braxton thinks...
But at the moment, I'm just glad I picked up some Charles Ives and the
Candiria and Soilwork discs on the same shopping excursion.
NP - Charles Ives, Holidays Symphony - Washington's Birthday,
- -----Original Message-----
On Behalf Of Joseph Zitt
Sent: Thursday, May 31, 2001 6:34 AM
To: Steve Smith
Cc: Zorn-List (E-mail)
Subject: Re: Braxton and stand up comedian... no joke
On Wed, May 30, 2001 at 11:25:53PM -0400, Steve Smith wrote:
> Braxton's notes talk about the speaker having certain "target subject
> choices" for improvising upon. There are lots of references to such
> strategies and procedures as "SCHEDULE MARKER ANNOUNCEMENT
> (all caps his usage), "composition convergence connections," "imprint
> codes," and so on. Rusch, in a fit of either vagueness or openminded
> fairness, writes, "Interesting also were the various facets that are
> in the improvisation depending on how the listener approaches the
> experience. And to be able to expose may of those facets I found it
> necessary to consciously divorce myself from the language of the words
> listen instead to the music of the words - not an instinctive thing
> or, I'd guess, most listeners."
I'd be interested in hearing the reaction to the piece of someone who
didn't speak English (though getting the request to and reaction from
that person from this Anglophone list presents an interesting
problem). Maybe one of our listmembers from outside the country might
try it out on an appropriately-musically-clued non English speaker and
I'd also be eager to see and try out the scores, curious as to what
might be done with them that didn't appear to involve rubber chickens.
("Take my Wourinen... please...)
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