Anthony Braxton Trio (Victoriaville) 2007 (Victo 108)
Diamond Curtain Wall Trio:
Anthony Braxton: sopranino, soprano, alto, baritone, bass & contrabass saxophones, electronics
Mary Halvorson: electric guitar
Taylor Ho Bynum: cornet, bugle, trombone, bass & piccolo trumpets, hats, mutes
Recorded live Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville 5/20/07
Braxton goes psychedelic! Well, not exactly. Braxton’s laptop emits spacey whooshes, squeals, and keening wails of noise and Halvorson exhibits an incredible array of delightfully sensuous guitar sounds: from woody, Jim-Hall-like jazziness to excoriating metallic shredding a la Robert Fripp; from gentle acoustic fingerpicking to skittering, scumbling scrapes and glitchy electronic processing — and everything in between. Mary Halvorson is perhaps the most interesting guitar player since Derek Bailey and here she is given an opportunity to really stretch out. Meanwhile, Taylor Ho Bynum wields an arsenal of brass instruments and mutes to bring a kind of smeared, pre-bop vocalizing to post-Webern pitch material which is utterly unique and highly effective. As for Braxton himself, he plays the various saxophones like stops on a gigantic reed organ. His virtuosity is astonishing, not just in the fleetness of his facility (which is, of course, remarkable), but in his presentation of a unified voice across the diverse and increasingly massive and unwieldy instruments. Lovingly recorded, Braxton’s blasts on the contrabass saxophone will rattle your windows! Both Halvorson and Bynum are long-time veterans of Braxton’s ensembles and their telepathic interplay blurs the distinction between composition and improvisation. With repeated listening, however, the music reveals a coherent and singularly Braxtonian architecture supporting its hour-plus-long duration. While the absence of percussion lends the proceedings a quasi-chamber-music feel, any expectations of cerebral politeness are met with the most boisterously rock-ish music of Braxton’s career. Frankly, this is one of the most exciting discs I’ve heard in a long time and is, so far, my candidate for “Record of the Year.” Essential.