Anthony Braxton – Composition N. 247

"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 

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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

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Recorded in Middletown, Connecticut, May 15, 2000 by Jon Rosenburg. Engineered by Stan Wijnans at LMC Studio, London. 

Available as 320k MP3 or 16bit FLAC 

Tracklisting:

1. Composition N. 247 - 1:01:35

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.