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Anthony Braxton

The development of Braxton's unique musical language began as an exploration of rhythms and textures, which he combined with techniques gained from experimental composition, from graphic notation to serialism all the way to multimedia presentation. In the interim, he can look back on and celebrate over four decades of kaleidoscopic output: recordings, compositions, theoretical works and university teaching appointments.

Braxton has remained a controversial figure among musicians and critics, since he moves with complete autonomy between diverse musical worlds and has absorbed the influences of John Coltrane, Paul Desmond and Eric Dolphy with equal enthusiasm as those of John Cage or Karlheinz Stockhausen. The latter preoccupations have led to plenty of criticism from traditionalists. There is however zero cause for doubt regarding the originality and rich world of ideas that Braxton’s output represents. He has managed in his resourceful way to reconcile the intuitive aspects of free jazz with the formal and harmonic methods of contemporary classical music. Braxton has composed works for orchestra and operas – he has experimented with unusual line-ups, writing for and performing with 100 tubas or four orchestras where it suits his fancy. He has created myriad complex works that he uses as jumping off points for improvisations, deconstructions and remixes.

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Written in Woodstock between August 1979 and September 1980 and dedicated to Stockhausen, Composition 96 is a piece for orchestra and four slide projectors intended, says Braxton, "to celebrate the composite inter-relationship between dynamic symbolism and positive world change."  Composition 96 is, says Anthony Braxton, a key work in his music's evolution. This is true both on the structural level, where 96 is "a point of definition" in his development of "multiple line musics"; and on the spiritual or "vibrational" (to use Braxton's term) level where it is the second in his series of "ritual and ceremonial" pieces in which he employs "correspondance logics" to explore music's links with colour, shape, symbol, gesture, astrology and numerology. The visual components of Composition 96 are based on "12 symbols from various world culture religions and/or mystical teachings" (the remaining 4 symbols being created by various combinations of the original 12).  --- The Composers and Improvisors Orchestra are: Denny Goodhew / alto saxDeborah De Loria / bassScott Weaver / bassRay Downey / bass clarinetMarlene Weaver / bassoonMarjorie Parbington / celloPage Smith-Weaver / celloScott Threlkold / celloPaul Pearse / clarinetBill Smith / clarinetBob Davis / english hornDenise Pool / fluteRebecca Morgan / fluteNancy Hargerud / fluteRichard Reed / french hornMotter Dean / harpAileen Munger / oboeLauurri Uhlig / oboeEd Hartman / percussionMatt Kocmieroski / percussionJulian Priester / tromboneScott Reeves / tromboneDave Scott / trumpetJames Knapp / trumpetRick Bynes / tubaBeatrice Dolf, Betty Agent, Jean Word, Sam Williams / violaJeannine Davis, Julian Smedley, Libby Poole, Mathew Pederson, Becky Liverzey, Jeroen Van Tyn, Mary Jacobson, Sandra Guy / violin --- Written for 37-piece orchestra and four slide projectors by Anthony Braxton. Recorded by the Composers and Improvisors Orchestra at the Cornish Institute, Seattle, Washington, May 30, 1981 and dedicated to the master composer Karlheinz Stockhausen.  Conducted by Anthony Braxton. Published by Synthesis Music. Produced by Leo Feigin. Remastered by Alan Mosley.

Anthony Braxton – Composition 96

"Most Ghost Trance Music performances begin with the entire ensemble in unison at the opening of the work. What happens afterwards, however, differs widely depending on the piece, the make up of the ensemble, and the ever changing performance practices. At designated points of the line, often in looped sections, one may decide to switch to an improvisation, play a secondary / tertiary piece, or play the melody at a different tempo. There are no fixed rules pertaining to when this happens or for how long, and it may also be done individually or in groups. Composition n. 247 is one of the few Ghost Trance Music works tailored for a specific instrumentation: two saxophones and bagpipes (Anthony Braxton, James Fei, and Matthew Welch). It's been recorded live, and the striking quality of this recording will be evident immediately upon first hearing. "The music on this disc is unlike anything I have participated in, in terms of mental and physical endurance, mobility between different sets of material, and sheer sonic intensity."  - James Fei, NYC, December 2000.  “Ghost Trance Music” is a phrase one hears bandied about in the rather occult discourses of Braxtonologists, but this piece really makes sense of the term. Using the bagpipes not only for their sound but, it seems, their whole tradition, he creates a continuously flowing stream of notes rooted in a regular semiquaver rhythm. At the most simplistic level, this is certainly hypnotic stuff, and when one gets a way into the piec’s hour-long duration, time really does seem to dilate a bit. - Metropolis Free Jazz  --- Anthony Braxton / soprano, f and alsto saxophones; e flat and contrabass clarinets, right channel James Fei / soprano and alto saxophones; bass clarinet, left channel Matthew Welch / bagpipes --- Recorded in Middletown, Connecticut, May 15, 2000 by Jon Rosenburg. Engineered by Stan Wijnans at LMC Studio, London. 

Anthony Braxton – Composition N. 247

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