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Anthony Braxton: Four Compositions (GTM) 2000

Anthony Braxton continues to add new recordings to his enormous pile. Four Compositions (GTM) 2000 (Delmark) finds the composer-reedist once again playing with a standard quartet-a setting he faithfully returns to despite no matter how much music he’s conceived for amplified shovel ensembles or tuba choirs. Pianist Kevin Uehlinger, bassist Keith Witty and percussionist Noam Schatz didn’t get to see the music Braxton composed for the session until they showed up at the studio, but these musicians sound confident and game despite some knotty structures. That said, the band also doesn’t seem to stray very far from Braxton’s structures for long. They are either a conservative group or Braxton’s compositions left relatively little room for broad individual expression. The four compositions on tap for this one (numbers 242 through 245, for those of you keeping count) all open with an almost strident, marchlike pulse movement constantly falling over itself with stuttering, stumbling intrusions. From there, however, Braxton and the band range widely with these pieces, ending up sometimes at places of great subtlety and sensitivity. Uehlinger’s economical touch is notable throughout, though he earns extra points for his atmospheric turn at the melodica on “Composition 244.”

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