Erik Friedlander: Maldoror. 2002. Brassland: HWY-005.
Erik Friedlander: cello
The conversion of text-to-improvisation as ten dark, surreal poems of Isidore Ducasse are wordlessly interpreted by Erik Friedlander. It's hard to say what carries over from the original French texts. But the English translations make for intense reading and the solo cello music is exquisite. This one has been getting some extra time in the rotation.
Edgard Varese: The Complete Works. 1998. Decca Recording Company, London: 289 460 208-2.
Performed by: The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, ASKO Ensemble
Conductor: Riccardo Chailly
In a more enlightened age there would be so many Varese Festivals in every major city that people would be whistling Density 21.5 on their way to work, DJ's would be spinning re-mixes of Poeme Electronique and Ameriques would be the standard accompaniment to 4th of July fireworks spectacles. Until that glorious day arrives, we have these definitive and energetic performances overseen by the baton of Riccardo Chailly.
Tuning Up strikes me as more of a curiosity than a solid part of the Varese canon. It was reconstructed by Chou Wen-chung from notes and sketches left behind by Varese. One can hear the Varese sonic vocabulary at work and it comes close to sounding like a "new" work from this significant composer. The desire to add to the Varese repertoire is understandable - but the creative voice just isn't the same even when the vocabulary is so closely matched.
The "complete-ness" of The Complete Works is filled out with an orchestration by Antony Beaumont of Un grand sommeil noir and a revised and completed version of Nocturnal by Chou Wen-chung. Both are Varese compositions I'm less familiar with. Nocturnal is a knockout riddled with inspired moments of pure sonic bliss.
But it's works like Octandre, Deserts and Ameriques that make this collection such an important touch stone for my listening habits and a necessary part of my collection. There's so much in these pieces that having summer Varese festivals seems completely reasonable.
Anthony Braxton 12+1tet: 9 Compositions (Iridium) 2006 - disc 1. Firehouse 12 Records: FH12-04-03-001.
Recorded live: March 16, 2006 at Iridium Jazz Club, New York City.
The Anthony Braxton 12+1tet
Anthony Braxton: composer, alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, sopranino saxophone, clarinet and Eb contalto clarinet
Taylor Ho Bynum: cornet, flugelhorn, trumpbone, piccolo trumpet, bass trumpet, shell
Andrew Raffo Dewar: soprano saxophone, c-melody saxophone, clarinet
James Fei: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet
Mary Halvorson: electric guitar
Stephen H. Lehman: alto saxophone, sopranino saxophone
Nicole Mitchell: flute, alto flute, bass flute, piccolo, voice
Jessica Pavone: viola, violin
Reut Regev: trombone, flugelbone
Jay Rozen: tuba, euphonium
Sara Schoenbeck: bassoon, suona
Aaron Siegel: percussion, vibraphone
Carl Testa: acoustic bass, bass clarinet
Disc 1 = Composition 350 - dedicated to the artist Emilio Cruz
Composition 350 - along with all the compositions included in this box set - belongs to the "third species" of Braxton's "Ghost Trance Musics" composed between 1995 and 2001. They represent a creative burst partially inspired by Braxton's study of Native American Ghost Dance rituals of the late 19th century. They mark a cohesive evolution and synthesis of Braxton's incredible musical language. It's also the most sophisticated group improvisation I've ever heard - built upon the solid roots of George Lewis's Shadowgraph pieces and Butch Morris's Conductions along with modular beauty of the more than 300 compositions that preceded the third species of Ghost Trance Musics.