Anthony Braxton

Four Compositions (GTM) 2000

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In a sense, Four Compositions (GTM) 2000 is a homecoming for Anthony Braxton. This 2003 release reunites the avant-garde reedman with Delmark Records, where he recorded his first album, 3 Compositions of New Jazz, in 1968. Braxton was only 22 at the time, and he turned 57 in 2002. Some musicians mellow with time, but not Braxton; after all these years, the Chicago native is as uncompromising as ever. Like so much of his previous work, Four Compositions (GTM) 2000 has to be accepted own its own terms -- and those terms certainly aren't terms of the conservative "bop police." This is complex, abstract, dissonant, highly cerebral music that never goes out of its way to be accessible -- the sort of music that appeals to intellectuals in Sweden. That isn't to say that only Swedes listen to Braxton, who has a small following in the United States -- only that albums this left-of-center are a hard sell in the U.S. and that intellectuals in Sweden and other European countries have been consistent supporters of Braxton. Four Compositions (GTM) 2000 won't be a pop hit, but those who are daring enough to go along for the ride will find that Braxton is in excellent form on four extended pieces (one of which lasts 20 minutes). This time, he plays several instruments (including flute and various saxophones) and leads a cohesive quartet that includes pianist Kevin Uehlinger, bassist Keith Witty, and percussionist Noah Schatz. Many non-avant-garde musicians have had difficulty comprehending Braxton's work, but these sideman obviously understand where he is coming from and serve him well on this inspired addition to his sizable catalog.

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