Anthony Braxton

Trio (Glasgow) 2005

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Recorded live at Glasgow's Centre for Contemporary Art, this album consists of the second released and recorded (unless a prior recording eventually surfaces) documentation of Anthony Braxton's Diamond Curtain Wall Trio, which features the master's first forays into interactive electronics. This double album was recorded only a week after the Phonomanie VIII workshop/event that yielded the four-CD set 4 Compositions (Ulrichsberg) 2005: Phonomanie VIII, and three weeks after the saxophonist's 60th birthday. In Ulrichsberg, the trio consisted of Braxton, trumpeter Taylor Ho Bynum, and percussionist Aaron Siegel, performing "Composition 323a." This time around, guitarist Tom Crean fills Siegel's place, but the piece is, again, "Composition 323a," followed by its counterpart "Composition 323b" on disc two. Of course, following Braxton's composition system, two renditions of a given piece can lead to very different results, even more so if the instrumentation has been changed. In the realization we have here, "Composition 323a" is a rather frantic succession of fast-paced exchanges and sudden quiet moments. Crean's guitar work is a bit overcrowded for what Braxton and Bynum are trying to establish, resulting in an unstable, slightly tiresome set. "Composition 323b" comes off much better, with Crean sounding less nervous and more inclined to integrate the flow of the music. This second set includes some beautiful playing from Braxton, who sticks to alto saxophone throughout the concert. As for the electronics (music fragments programmed in SuperCollider and used as springboards at juncture points in the piece), they still have a patchy feel -- you could easily map out the music using "with/without electronics" categories, while, in later performances (such as the Trio (Victoriaville) 2007 CD), this aspect of the trio's music will gain in presence, relevance, and importance.