Anthony Braxton

Quartet 2006: Ghost Trance Music

  • AllMusic Rating
    7
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

The first Anthony Braxton album to appear on the Important Records label was issued in 2008 as Quartet (GTM) 2006, although the recordings were actually made on May 26 and 27, 2005. The set contains four extended collective workouts designated as Compositions 338, 340, 341, and 346. They were presented at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut with pianist Max Heath, bassist Carl Testa, and percussionist Aaron Siegel during the interim between Braxton's participation in a three-day jazz festival at Victoriaville, Canada and his summer-long European tour. The significance of the letters GTM is as follows. Beginning in 1995, Braxton expanded his already unusually vast and complex musical universe by initiating what would evolve into a decade-long series of multi-level improvisatory collaborations which he called Ghost Trance Music. The "first species" of this special type of "continuous state music" was patterned after indigenous North American drumming and inspired by the Ghost Dance Rituals of the Plains Tribes as practiced during the late 19th century. It was also informed by the Indonesian shadow puppet theater tradition. Like the rituals for which it was named, Ghost Trance Music materialized initially as an intuitive system for ancestor reverence and collective memory. Specifically, Braxton sought to honor and invoke a veritable composite Ghost of the Old Masters, i.e. musical heroes who contributed to the diverse braid of traditions which have manifested since the 1890s. He also took steps to provide for potential inclusion of literally everything he had conceived, composed, or created since he began putting music together sequentially in the late '60s. Braxton's collage technique, which first came to full fruition with his Quartet during the '80s, coexists in Ghost Trance Music with elemental language music coordinates which date back to his earliest compositions. As the series evolved, Ghost Trance Music became increasingly non-linear while what Braxton calls the Ritual Function became more important than ever. Contained only by duration, these works (which are more like sets of coordinates than composed entities) really have no beginning and no end. Taylor Ho Bynum, a key participant in the Ghost Trance series, has described a "balance between structure and freedom, composition and improvisation, ensemble and individual." By 2005, the Ghost Trance Musics had entered what Braxton called the "Accelerator Class" or "Accelerator Whip" mode. That terminology clearly applies to what was conjured and captured on this collection. 2006 marked the end of the Ghost Trance Musics as a series of creative rituals conducted under that name. The next phases of Braxton's development would involve the Diamond Curtain Wall (augmented by SuperCollider computer audio programming); Falling River Musics and Echo Echo Mirror House Music.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
01:02:49

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
46:53

Track Listing - Disc 3

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
57:48

Track Listing - Disc 4

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
55:48
blue highlight denotes track pick