Anthony Braxton

Duo (Leipzig) 1993

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The pairing of Anthony Braxton with virtually anybody is not an unheard of thing. Braxton has made more duet records than anyone on the free jazz/improv scene with the possible exception of Derek Bailey. In this case, Braxton picked an unknown, one of his students at Wesleyan, to be his partner in Europe. Ted Reichman is no slouch as a pianist, and he is a fine accordionist. That said, the pairing just doesn't work. The reason is a simple one: Reichman is too in awe of his professor to give him a run for his money, though he is sufficiently gifted enough to perhaps do just that. He stilts himself, which in turn, stilts Braxton (or worse, doesn't). When the professor is working from a full head of steam, Reichman lays back when he should be driving in, running through Braxton's skittering skein of notes, with cascading tonal clusters of his own. But he holds himself in check, which after 20 or 30 minutes becomes frustrating -- especially when you can hear how gifted Reichman is as a soloist and as a potential foil. By the time one reaches the end of the disc -- the program is all Braxton, and there are regrettably no standards here, which would have broken up the assault -- the feeling of having had too much of an almost satisfying dinner takes hold. You're more than full, but you're not sure you tasted your food.

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