19–21 January 2020
Thrilled to welcome back the great Anthony Braxton to OTO after his incredible residency here in 2018. This time Braxton returns with his new Standard Quartet, performing jazz standards alongside Alexander Hawkins (piano), Neil Charles (double bass) and Stephen Davies (drums) for the first time.
One of the fundamental figures in the music of the late 20th century, his work as a saxophonist and composer has set trailblazing precedents by tapping into and expanding new conceptual and instrumental possibilities. To this day, Braxton remains a towering force in new music and this should be an unmissable three nights.
Anthony Braxton / alto sax, soprano sax, sopranino sax
Alexander Hawkins / piano
Neil Charles / double bass
Stephen Davis / drums
“A scientist and an artist, Braxton seems content developing of his own musical galaxy. There's nobody quite like him, and if his music is the diametric opposite of easy listening, it has acted as an antidote to creative conservatism throughout his lifetime.” – The Guardian
“Anthony Braxton is of course renowned as one of the seminal composers in the creative music of the 1960s to the present: but throughout his career, has nonetheless also proven himself to be one of the most dedicated and singular of interpreters of the music of others. Both live and on record, he has probed a vast range of what could be thought of as the ‘standards’: both from the ‘Great American Songbook’, and from the pens of many of the master composer-performers, including the likes of Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, Warne Marsh, Andrew Hill, Lennie Tristano, John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, and many others.
These interpretations of standards have taken the same kaleidoscopic range of approaches apparent when Braxton tackles his own music. Compare, for example, the 1971 performance of ‘No Greater Love’ with the group ‘Circle’, with the standard tunes appearing on ‘Solo (Pisa) 1982)’; or the version of ‘Ornithology’ in the company of Tete Montoliu, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen and Tootie Heath (‘In The Tradition’) with that recorded in duo with George Lewis (‘Elements of Surprise’). A further series of albums (among them ‘Knitting Factory (Piano/Quartet) 1994’ and ‘Quintet (Tristano) 2014’) has seen Braxton helming standards ensembles in radical and visionary fashion from the piano; whilst the ‘Solo Piano (Standards) 1995’ finds him parsing his chosen repertoire in a manner reminiscent of the great ‘Mingus Plays Piano’ album. And then there are the glorious outliers throughout his discography: just one example being the extraordinary performances alongside Dave Brubeck, Roy Haynes, Lee Konitz and others on Brubeck’s ‘All The Things We Are’ album.” – Alexander Hawkins
The Chicago-born composer and multi-instrumentalist Anthony Braxton is recognized as one of the most important musicians, educators, and creative thinkers of the past 50 years. He is highly esteemed in the experimental music community for the revolutionary quality of his work and for the mentorship and inspiration he has provided to generations of younger musicians. His work, both as a saxophonist and a composer, has broken new conceptual and technical ground in the trans-African and trans-European (a.k.a. “jazz” and “American Experimental”) musical traditions in North America as defined by master improvisers such as Warne Marsh, John Coltrane, Paul Desmond, Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler, and he and his own peers in the historic Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM, founded in Chicago in the late '60s); and by composers such as Charles Ives, Harry Partch, and John Cage. He has further worked his own extensions of instrumental technique, timbre, meter and rhythm, voicing and ensemble make-up, harmony and melody, and improvisation and notation into a personal synthesis of those traditions with 20th-century European art music as defined by Schoenberg, Stockhausen, Xenakis, Varese and others.
Alexander Hawkins’ work ranges from his acclaimed solo performances (‘intensely intricate…powerful, technically brilliant and melodically inventive’) through to works on a much larger canvas, such as his Togetherness Music ('[a] masterpiece that can stand next to the best works of Mitchell, Braxton or Parker’). He collaborates regularly with all generations of creative musicians, including the likes of Anthony Braxton, Marshall Allen, Evan Parker, John Surman, Joe McPhee, Hamid Drake, Nicole Mitchell, Tomeka Reid, Sofia Jernberg, Shabaka Hutchings, and many others. Further creative associations, with two very different icons of African music, Louis Moholo-Moholo and Mulatu Astatke, stretch back for well over a decade. He has been widely commissioned as a composer, including by the likes of the BBC, Berlin’s Pierre Boulez Saal, and numerous festivals. His performance schedule takes him to club, concert hall, and festival stages worldwide.
"Sounds like all the future jazz you might imagine without ever being able to conceive of the details" – The Guardian
Neil Charles is one of the most in-demand musicians on the scene, with a huge array of credits to his name, including Jack DeJohnette, the Sun Ra Arkestra, Mingus Big Band, Jose James, Jerry Dammers, Courtney Pine, and Terence Blanchard. His own projects have included Zed U, with Shabaka Hutchings and Tom Skinner, and the more recent ensemble Dark Days, dealing with the work of James Baldwin. Most recently, he has been heard across the international scene with Gabriels. As well as being known as a bass player with a huge sound and immaculate sense of time, he is equally renowned as a producer, going by the alias Ben Marc.
"Bassist Neil Charles went flying, from the first moment filling the space with the sound of his mighty wings Henning Bolte," – Europe Jazz Media Chart