This Black Lion release is an odd reissuing of two albums that, aside from Braxton's presence, have little to do with each other. The first is Silence, originally issued on Freedom in 1975 but recorded in 1969, one of his earliest sessions. He's part of a cooperative trio with violinist Leroy Jenkins and trumpeter Leo Smith (the group was also often joined by the late drummer Steve McCall) performing two lengthy, suite-like pieces. They're wonderful works, exploring a terrain similar to that being investigated by the Art Ensemble of Chicago around the same time: barebones themes allowing for substantial free improvisation that dealt as much with sonic space and the generation of unusual textures as anything else. "Silence," as the title implies, is largely concerned with the disposition of sounds in space and shows the strong influence that the contemporary classical world, particularly John Cage, had on these musicians in their early years. The two duo performances with synthesizer pioneer Richard Teitelbaum are also from separate dates, both in the summer of 1976. The two had a long and fruitful relationship and these pieces give a good idea why: both possessed probing intelligence that enabled them to dig deep into each other's individual musical languages, unearthing surprising common ground as well as acknowledging differences. "Crossing" is an extended conversation, replete with arguments and jokes, while "Behemoth Dreams" showcases Braxton's monstrous contrabass clarinet against Teitelbaum's throbs. The latter, presumably with a nod to the title's biblical associations, includes allusions to hymns like "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God." As these two fine releases are tough to come by in their original forms, this fortuitous, though unlikely, pairing is one that shouldn't be passed up.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Brian Olewnick