Anthony Braxton Quintet / Anthony Braxton

Quintet (Basel) 1977

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Not released until more than two decades after it was recorded, this collection from a live concert in the late 1970s documents one of Anthony Braxton's most important small groups. Trombonist George Lewis had earlier proved himself to be one of the saxophonist's most exciting partners, and he continues here to overwhelm with his enormous technique coupled with a somewhat uncharacteristic emotional adventurousness. The group was recorded during a period in which Braxton's compositions were still partially rooted in a hard bop aesthetic, though his use of the medium was entirely original and incorporated postmodern concepts. It is a real treat for the two horns to be joined on piano by Muhal Richard Abrams, a seminal player in the history of free jazz and an important early influence on Braxton and Lewis. The pianist regales in the opportunity to spread out with sophisticated, occasionally dense constructs. Another unusual group member, drummer Charles "Bobo" Shaw, energizes the quintet with an aggressive style derived from his days with the St. Louis-based Human Arts Ensemble. All-star bassist Mark Helias rounds out the rhythm section. This super quintet meets expectations, and the historically important set should achieve some sort of critical, if not cult, status.

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