This is the third documentation of Anthony Braxton's Diamond Curtain Wall Trio to be released, the third lineup to be featured, and the first presented in single-disc format. The first performance released was part of the Phonomanie four-CD set and featured percussionist Aaron Siegel alongside Braxton and trumpeter Taylor Ho Bynum. The second recording issued was a double-CD set where guitarist Tom Crean replaced Siegel. On this set recorded live at the 2007 FIMAV in Victoriaville, Quebec, guitarist Mary Halvorson rounds up the trio. Halvorson plays in Braxton's 12+1tet and in some of Bynum's projects, but it was her first performance as a member of the Diamond Curtain Wall Trio, although that fact never shows in the hourlong piece. This trio is Braxton's vehicle for experimenting with computer electronics -- a field he had not explored prior to 2005. He has programmed in SuperCollider a number of electronic fragments to serve as gateways to other regions of his composition system. Surprisingly, these computer interventions are non-intrusive, yet exert a presence strong enough to effectively steer the music in different directions. But the real showcase at that performance -- and on the record -- is the huge array of saxophones Braxton uses: six instruments ranging from sopranino to contrabass sax, the larger versions of Adolphe's baby resting on stands the 60-year-old eagerly dragged to and fro on the stage. Bynum has an equally impressive collection of instruments within reach, from cornet to trombone, not to mention a wide selection of mutes. Of course, it is never the size or variety of the equipment that makes a good musician, but the sound palette is unusually rich here. More important, though, is the music itself: highly focused, dense, and naturally flowing. Halvorson fits right in, her creativity a match to the hornmen. The piece, "Composition No. 323c," is rather calm and pensive, with occasional lyrical moments, like Bynum's trumpet lines around the 25th minute or a very quiet bridge of strummed guitar chords. Sound quality is also a major incentive in recommending this CD over Braxton's other trio recordings from this period. This is simply one of Braxton's freshest albums of the decade.
Trio (Victoriaville) 2007 Review
by François Couture
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