Anthony Braxton

Nine Compositions (Hill) 2000

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This 2001 release represents the second and final segment in a set of multi-reedman/composer Anthony Braxton's interpretations of the music of pianist/composer Andrew Hill. On this outing, the estimable artist surges forward with mainstream-like accessibility, especially when viewing his rather massive recorded legacy as a whole. Here, Braxton eschews his avant-garde tendencies, although the quintet occasionally delves into the free jazz scheme of things. The quintet pays dutiful homage to a portion of Hill's works via a series of moderate swing vamps and jazz waltz-style passages. Alto saxophonist Steve Lehman chips in on several tracks, while trumpeter Paul Smoker and guitarist Kevin O'Neil receive generous soloing opportunities. However, it's Braxton's fluttering attack and upbeat ruminations that propel the band into a surfeit of variegated excursions, as the soloists jab and spar or render their wares in sequential fashion. Ultimately, the musicians are most effective at reworking and, in some instances, decoding Hill's melodies with multidimensional frameworks and in-the-pocket grooves. Recommended.

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