Anthony Braxton

Solo Piano (Standards) 1995

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This is Braxton's first solo piano album, finally recorded after years of woodshedding on the traditional jazz repertoire. That it doesn't sound like any other pianist as much as it sounds like Braxton the saxophonist should not surprise anyone. Braxton approaches standards on piano in much the same way he does on alto. He doesn't just go "out" on the structure; he uses the chords, but he doesn't play patterns or contrived licks over them in the way a bebop player would. Every time he approaches a piece, it's as if he's playing it for the first time, using his accumulated knowledge to decipher just that specific composition's secrets. Braxton doesn't use the tune as a whole. Rather, he dissects the component parts, using the separate elements as material for his improvisation as he makes his way through the piece. It's as if he's telling you about a trip that he's just taken, only instead of saying "I went to San Francisco," he tells you every detail of the trip just as it occurred. You don't know for certain his final destination until story's end; when it's revealed, it's a wonderful surprise made even more interesting by Braxton's discursive narrative.

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