Anthony Braxton Ninetet

Anthony Braxton Ninetet (Yoshi's) 1997, Vol. 2

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Braxton's Ghost Trance Music series ranks among the most difficult music to review. Everyone has his or her personal favorites among the dozens of discs released under this umbrella and, since the general idea underpinning them all and the quality of musicianship remain rather constant, evaluation comes down to highly subjective factors. For instance, one listener might find the first volume in Leo Records' Ninetet (Yoshi's) 1997 series lacking in interest, but would be hard pressed to rationally explain why this second installment, Ninetet (Yoshi's) 1997, Vol. 2 is so much better. The lineup is the same: a barrage of woodwinds (Anthony Braxton, Brandon Evans, James Fei, Jackson Moore, Andre Vidal, and J.D. Parran, all playing multiple saxophones, clarinets, and flutes) accompanied by guitar (Kevin O'Neil), bass (Joe Fonda), and percussion (Kevin Norton), although all nine players rarely perform at the same time. Both "Composition N. 209" and "Composition N. 210" move through a quasi-endless and constantly renewed flow of trios (the latter also uses larger combinations). The music was recorded the day after the first volume, and consists once again of two disc-long pieces. The difference on Vol. 2 is that the group sounds more focused, more willing to trap the listener into the hypnotic patterns of the music and push him to the edge of free improvisation. "Composition N. 210" in particular deploys some mean tricks to make you forget that it is written down. The two pieces develop very different colors. Most noticeable is the fact that Norton (mostly) plays the drum kit in "N. 210," while he sticks to mallet percussion and cymbals in "N. 209." And so, either by design or attraction, "N. 210" displays a certain free jazz mood, prone to a certain frenzy, while "N. 209" slightly evokes contemporary classical music, especially in its delicate finale. Up to this point, the listener may be under the impression that GTM worked better with small groupings, but this set proves otherwise.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 57:47

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 58:31
blue highlight denotes track pick