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Anthony Braxton and Matt Bauder: 2 + 2 Compositions

Economy can be overrated. Yet it has its place, and in the hands of someone wise, it can be persuasive. On 2+2 Compositions Anthony Braxton collaborates with a trio of his Wesleyan students, youngsters obviously in thrall of the minimalism that’s the free-improv flavor of the month. While not top-drawer Braxton, the CD demonstrates to a certain extent the efficacy of reductionist improvisation in the hands of someone with something to say.

Braxton splits compositional duties with tenor saxophonist/clarinetist Matt Bauder. Their stylistic differences are telling. Bauder’s tracks are essentially conceptual entities. Braxton, on the other hand, can also be smitten with theory but doesn’t let it consume his music’s organic qualities. The dynamic and textural range engendered by Braxton as both a composer and improviser results in a more compelling, multidimensional music. Bauder’s tenor and clarinet work is self-conscious but competent, albeit within extremely circumscribed boundaries. Bassist Zach Wallace and percussionist Aaron Siegel work mostly with timbre, ignoring rhythm for the most part. Without Braxton, this is, at best, Satie’s “furniture music” (which, to be fair, is probably Bauder and Co.’s intent). With Braxton, it commands attention. Quietly.

Originally Published