Creative Construction Company

CCC, Vol. 2

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Five years after this concert was recorded, the names of what had been fairly unknown players were big enough to merit the release of several volumes from this gig, of which this is the second. The Creative Construction Company were a brilliant group, no bones about it. In their original trio incarnation of Anthony Braxton, Wadada Leo Smith, and Leroy Jenkins, they were not only instrumentally challenging but overloaded with philosophical intensity, seeing as how each of these members is a giant not only of playing music but theorizing about it as well. These concert recordings present this trio augmented by other players, but the effect is so pronounced that the word "augmented" hardly suffices to describe how completely the concept of the music is changed by these added participants. A trio expands to a sextet, an entire rhythm section is created inside a group that drew much of their originality from not having one, and what had previously been areas for space and near-silent exploration became shuffling grab bags of unnecessary comments from the peanut gallery. Of course it is harsh to refer to Muhal Richard Abrams, Richard Davis, and Steve McCall as the peanut gallery, but that's really what they are to this music. They make a mighty effort, but its mostly to make sure they are weighing in with noise of some kind rather than trying to really get into the music. Even Abrams, who was a mentor to all these new Chicago players, is too conservative a pianist to really get inside the nuts and bolts of what this trio was all about. Ditto Richard Davis -- his fat, 12-course-meal bass tone has the undesired effect of making the Creative Construction Company's little instruments sound like the rummage sale that they might really be, the unmasking neither desired nor meaningful. McCall at least has quite a sense of dramatic space in his playing, but like Don Moye with the Art Ensemble, the presence of a full-time percussionist is not particularly valuable. Braxton and company were going somewhere else of great interest by not relying constantly on jazz chops or a a standard rhythm section sound, and the guests on this date seem to be blocking the road.

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