Ran Blake / Anthony Braxton

A Memory of Vienna

  • AllMusic Rating
    8
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

This program of jazz standards and classics was the product of a two-and-a-half-hour completely unplanned session that happened as a result of Franz Koglmann's Pipetet finishing an album project a few hours early. Blake and Braxton had not played together for ten years -- since Blake's Rapport album in 1978. Art Lange, the session's producer, got the pair to find a number of tunes they wanted to play in common, noted the keys each tune was to be played in, and let them go. The result: eight gloriously recorded, wonderfully executed, and soulfully played duets that cover all kinds of territory, from a gorgeously reverential and understated version of Thelonious Monk's "'Round Midnight" to a stunning agile "Yardbird Suite," to Dizzy Gillespie's "You Got to My Head," played with just enough smoke to keep from igniting a full-fledged emotional fire. The themes are stated so seductively on the alto and Blake's large, whispering, chorded harmony, you could forget Braxton is the horn player and feel if you were in a movie theater in the 1930s. But if this isn't enough, you also get Mal Waldron's sultry "Soul Eyes" and Miles Davis' "Four," played by Braxton with all the dexterity Sonny Rollins did originally. This pair, despite the quirky nature of Blake's off-kilter harmonizing (which is very lyrical), know how to swing together, taking great care not to get in the way of the tunes they're playing. This is as understated and "mellow" as you will ever hear these two players. However, it also may be the first time you hear what sensitive listeners and interpretive masters they can be with the jazz canon.

blue highlight denotes track pick