11 Compositions

Anthony Braxton

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11 Compositions Review

by Steve Loewy

Here is another example of the remarkable versatility of Anthony Braxton. For this series of nearly eighty minutes of carefully arranged duets, Braxton performs on flute; contra-alto, contrabass, Bb, and soprano clarinets; and sopranino, alto, and F saxophones. Brett Larner joins him on traditional 13-string koto and 17-string bass koto. The combinations of sounds are utterly fascinating; the duo allures with deceptive simplicity. While some of the compositions lean toward familiar abstraction, others are surprisingly melodic. Larner is a fine foil for Braxton's explorations, which demonstrate a slightly off-kilter bop sensibility. Braxton is particularly strong on the contrabass clarinet, where he mines the lower strata. Larner's koto can be sweet or acerbic, and even mellow. While not an essential part of the ever-growing Braxton discography, 11 Compositions is nonetheless a highly rewarding session.

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