Saturday, April 12, 2008
This week's listening: A few more AACMs to run down...
still on the AACM tip, so i wanted to throw up some thoughts on (and a couple of MP3s of) some recent listening. and also, please take note of an awesome book-release event for George E. Lewis's aforementioned AACM tome (it's awesome, trust me) on May 9th. attendant concert features "The Trio": Lewis, Muhal Richard Abrams and Wadada Leo Smith. again: awesome is all you can say to that.
so, the rekkids:
1) Air - Air Song
the very first Air release, from 1975. the group had apparently not established its patented compositional collectivity yet, so all pieces on this one are by Threadgill, but it's an outstanding salvo from him, Fred Hopkins and Steve McCall. four pieces, all w/ Thread on a different ax, and all very different. i love the mindblowingly named second track, "Great Body of the Riddle or Where Were the Dodge Boys When my Clay Started to Slide," one of those incredibly soulful and sophisticated ballads that the band does so well (like "I'll Be Right Here Waiting" on the later "Air Time"), and also the roiling "Dance of the Beast," built around a swaying Hopkins vamp and featuring some very gritty Threadgill alto work. one thing i love about this record, and this band in general, is the very roomy solo space given to Hopkins and McCall; on "Great Body," the latter takes it way, way out. the slinky "Untitled Tango" and poetic, mysterious title track (Thread on flute) don't slouch either. take a listen for yourself:
Air - Great Body of the Riddle or Where Were the Dodge Boys When my Clay Started to Slide
rec. 9.10.75 [composition by Henry Threadgill; Threadgill - baritone sax, Fred Hopkins m- bass, Steve McCall - drums]
2) Anthony Braxton - 3 Compositions of New Jazz
3) Anthony Braxton, Leo Smith, Leroy Jenkins - Silence
Mr. Braxton's second and fourth recording sessions, respectively, the first from '68 and the latter from '69. 3 Compositions is way more well known due to being in print on Delmark, but Silence is just as worthy. the personnel is the same on both records (Braxton w/ Leo Smith on trumpet and various other instruments and Leroy Jenkins on violin, etc.), with the addition of AACM grandpappy Muhal Richard Abrams on 3 Comps. basically Silence serves as a statement of intent from this trio, which forms the core of what would later be known as the Creative Construction Company. in the Lewis book, much emphasis is placed on the early AACMers' affinity for spaciousness, subtlety and dynamic variety, and the title track from Silence is basically a manifesto of this kind of playing, with the players measuring out their statements in slow and extremely sparse units. the piece even features several of what Smith refers to in the book as "silence[s] bigger than a table." the first piece on Silence follows suit, as does the first piece on 3 Comps--both are classic AACM statements, featuring deep listening, droll juxtaposition, much switching of instruments (Jenkins's whimsical harmonica is always a welcome texture, and look out for Braxton's accordion on Silence and kazoo on the first piece from 3 Comps). the middle piece on Three Comps takes a much different approach, with Abrams rumbling torrentially underneath as the three players solo in turn; it's a stirring track, but much more conventional in the free-jazz sense than the rest of the record. the spacious drummerless improv explored on these records is a great companion to Smith's duo work with Marion Brown from around the same time, which i discussed in an earlier post.
4) Anthony Braxton - Creative Orchestra Music 1976
had heard much, much talk of the wonders of this session--i know Oran C. is a big fan--before recently spinning it for the first time, and it equals the hype. very exuberant, even zany, yet very diverse, very vibrant recording. would make an outstanding intro to the world of Braxtonia. the big daddy here is clearly Composition 58, which will take you right to halftime at a football game with its exuberant marching-band vibe; don't overlook the sick solos later in the piece, though, from George Lewis--at least i'm pretty sure--on trombone and someone i can't ID on clarinet. other pieces range from Braxton's patented schizo bebop (Comp. 55) to enigmatic, synth-abetted soundscape (Comp. 56). it's awesome to hear Braxton's raspy, jagged alto mixed in with this lush big-band vibe on Comp. 51. anyway, check it out:
Anthony Braxton - Composition 58
rec. 2/76 [for the curious, the personnel can be found here.]
more AACMs on the plate, including Roscoe Mitchell's formidable "Nonaah"!