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FW: Braxton and stand up comedian... no joke

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  • Franz Fuchs
    ... From: owner-zorn-list@lists.xmission.com On Behalf Of Steve Smith Sent: Thursday, May 31, 2001 5:26 AM To: Zorn-List (E-mail) Subject: Braxton and stand up
    Message 1 of 2 , Jun 5, 2001
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      -----Original Message-----
      From: owner-zorn-list@...
      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
      Braxton
      and Alex Horwitz. Braxton is credited with alto and soprano saxes,
      clarinet, and contrabass clarinet; Horowitz with voice. The six tracks
      are
      as follows:

      1. Composition 281 (12:52) - dedicated to Master Comedian Jonathan
      Winter
      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
      of
      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
      Wesleyan
      student and sometime member of a campus improv-comedy troupe Desperate
      Measures.

      Now, look, I'm as willing as anyone to follow Braxton into some of the
      least
      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
      extemporizing
      speaker or actor.

      But on a single listen to about half the disc, all I can say is that I'm
      a
      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
      INTERJECTIONS"
      (all caps his usage), "composition convergence connections," "imprint
      marker
      codes," and so on. Rusch, in a fit of either vagueness or openminded
      fairness, writes, "Interesting also were the various facets that are
      present
      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
      and
      listen instead to the music of the words - not an instinctive thing for
      me
      or, I'd guess, most listeners."

      Maybe I'm getting old and uptight, but what it sounds like is a Braxton
      solo
      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,
      or
      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
      not
      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
      JUST.
      PLAIN. STUPID.

      I haven't given up on the disc. Honest to God, I'll try harder. And I
      LOVE
      the fact that Braxton namechecks Mingus, Sun Ra, John Cage (performed by
      "my
      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
      the
      way Braxton thinks...

      But at the moment, I'm just glad I picked up some Charles Ives and the
      new
      Candiria and Soilwork discs on the same shopping excursion.

      Steve Smith
      ssmith36@...
      NP - Charles Ives, Holidays Symphony - Washington's Birthday,
      NYPhil/Bernstein (Sony)


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    • Franz Fuchs
      ... From: owner-zorn-list@lists.xmission.com On Behalf Of Joseph Zitt Sent: Thursday, May 31, 2001 6:34 AM To: Steve Smith Cc: Zorn-List (E-mail) Subject: Re:
      Message 2 of 2 , Jun 5, 2001
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        -----Original Message-----
        From: owner-zorn-list@...
        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
        INTERJECTIONS"
        > (all caps his usage), "composition convergence connections," "imprint
        marker
        > codes," and so on. Rusch, in a fit of either vagueness or openminded
        > fairness, writes, "Interesting also were the various facets that are
        present
        > 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
        and
        > listen instead to the music of the words - not an instinctive thing
        for me
        > 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
        report back?

        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...)

        --
        |> ~The only thing that is not art is inattention~ --- Marcel Duchamp <|
        | jzitt@... http://www.metatronpress.com/jzitt |
        | Latest CD: Jerusaklyn http://www.mp3.com/josephzitt |
        | Comma: Voices of New Music Silence: the John Cage Discussion List |


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