Multi-instrumentalist, composer, chess grandmaster and occasional author Anthony Braxton once drew as much criticism and ridicule as Wynton Marsalis. Despite being a champion of experimental material in both the improvising and classical traditions, Braxton has been blistered for every sin, from having a cold, soulless style to being overly infatuated with Stockhausen and Dave Brubeck. When Braxton’s pioneering, and recently reissued, solo-sax session For Alto was issued in 1968, the results were labeled either revolutionary or disgraceful depending on the perspective. Almost 33 years and multiple albums later, Braxton has been proved neither fraud nor seer. He was and is a fine player, especially on the cumbersome twins-bass and contrabass clarinets-and his compositions have become less pretentious and more engaging.
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