Two Compositions (Trio) 1998 is not just another double-CD installment in Anthony Braxton's ghost trance music, it is also one of the best and most readily enjoyable of the series. Both pieces were recorded live at Wesleyan University on April 17, 1998, and clock in at under an hour (56 and 49 minutes, to be precise). Despite the fact that they stick to a stable meter and consist of interlocking, repeated patterns, they remain lively and entertaining -- yes -- throughout. "Composition N. 227" features Braxton with Chris Jonas and David Novak. The basic instrumentation consists of saxes (mostly soprano and tenor in the case of Jonas; alto and F-alto for Braxton) and bassoon, the odd card here. Novak also touches piccolo, celesta, and a "plastic Indonesian tourist instrument" that adds a squeaky color 35 minutes into the piece. Braxton also turns to flute for a short while. In "Composition N. 228," he is joined by Jackson Moore (clarinet, sax) and Seth Misterka (sax), who would later turn to more raucous music (see his Dynasty and Demon projects), but still delivers a very convincing performance. The piece opens on a low-end trio, with baritone and bass (or contrabass?) saxophones. Moore and Misterka eventually move up to alto, but the bigger instruments regularly come back. Both pieces have a natural feel that transcends their scored existence. If the artistic value of Braxton's pieces for larger ensembles from the same period is open for debate (see Ninenet (Yoshi's) 1997, Vol. 1 and the orchestral Composition N. 169 + (186 + 206 + 214), for instance), these two pieces illustrate how fascinatingly transparent his music can be. Highly recommended.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2