The Free-Reed Review
Critiques of Compact Discs, Books and Music Scores
CD Review: Anthony Braxton with Ted Reichman: 1993 (Leipzig)
Total Time: 66:08
Label:Music and Arts Programs of America,
Anthony Braxton, woodwinds
"Anthony Braxton is widely and critically acclaimed as a seminal figure in the music of the late 20th century. His work, as a saxophonist and composer, has taken new conceptual and technical growth in the trans-African (jazz) and trans-European (American experimental) musical traditions in North America as defined by master improvisers such as Warne Marsh, John Coltrane, Paul Desmond, Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler and composers such as Charles Ives, Harry Partch and John Cage."—from the Anthony Braxton web page.
Review by Henry Doktorski:
In the fall of 1991, Ted Reichman, who described himself at that time as "a semi-competent jazz pianist fresh out of high school," entered the first meeting of Music 387 at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. His life was never to be the same.
"I felt something happening. I was hearing something that I had never realized could really exist... I felt myself hearing ... 'the call.'... If someone had told me four years ago that I'd be doing what I'm doing now, I'd have laughed. I have Braxton to thank for this."
Ted Reichman, from the CD booklet notes
This CD is a continuation of an already stellar career for Anthony Braxton and a milestone in the developing career of his student Ted Reichman. Braxton's music could be described in terms of his three main compositional influences- John Cage, John Coltrane, and Karlheinz Stockhausen. The music is sometimes notated and sometimes improvised, but it is nearly always atonal and a-metric. For most of the album, there is no discernable down beat.
Startling is the adjective which comes to my mind. Parts of the album are jarring: wild and frantic glissandi up and down the accordion right-hand keyboard, fortissimo distortion-like buzzing sounds on the sax. Braxton is amazingly inventive in his exploration of non-traditional sounds. In track five there is a section about one-and-a-half minutes through the piece where he makes what sounds remarkably like farting noises with the bass clarinet. Yet other parts are more relaxing: diatonic piano washes sustained with the damper pedal, gentle flute tones in the low register. Certainly there is no shortage of contrasts in this album.
The music seems to go on and on without rest. The five CD tracks merge one into another without even a one second break between them. In addition, the tracks are not even titled; they are simply numbered on the back of the CD booklet along with some line drawings and cryptic letters, illustrated by Braxton. There are no recurring themes or harmonies that the author could identify. Listening to this album is like taking a train from point A to point B; one never passes the same spot twice.
Braxton performs on saxophone, flute, clarinet and bass clarinet, while Reichman performs on piano and accordion—right hand only for most of the album, since most of the music is scored for only two voices. The CD booklet notes tell the fascinating story of Reichman's experiences in class with Braxton and were excerpted from a book authored by Reichman called "Mixtery, a Festschrift for Anthony Braxton," published by Stride Publications in England in 1994.
If you like avant-garde jazz, you will love "Anthony Braxton with Ted Reichman: 1993 (Leipzig)"
About the Performers
Anthony Braxton was an early member of Chicago's Association for the Advancement of Creative Music (AACM), and has performed with hundreds of jazz greats. A list of alumni of Braxton's groups is more or less a who's who of today's most highly regarded musicians, including Chick Corea, Dave Holland, George Lewis, Marilyn Crispell, Ray Anderson, Kenny Wheeler, and many others. Braxton has composed pieces ranging from solo piano music to full-length opera and has written over five volumes of musical/philosophical thought—"The Tri-Axium Writings" and "Composition Notes," published by Frog Creek Press. Braxton has also been the subject of five book-length studies.
The premiere of his latest opera, "Trillium R, Shala Fears for the Poor" will be performed on October 25 and 26 in New York at the John Jay Theater. In 1994, Braxton was the recipient of a Macarthur Foundation "Genius" Grant and founded his non-profit foundation, the Tricentric Foundation.
Ted Reichman is one of the most radical accordionists performing today. Born in Houlton, Maine in 1973, Reichman grew up in suburban Boston, and studied music at the New England Conservatory Preparatory School and Wesleyan University. He has worked extensively with Anthony Braxton and is a member of the board of directors of Braxton's Tricentric Foundation. Reichman has also played accordion in duo with Guy Klucevsek, Anthony Coleman, and Roland Dahinden and is a member of clarinetist David Krakauer's Klezmer Madness group.
He has also performed the compositions of Pauline Oliveros, Alvin Lucier and Christian Wolff and has recorded on Braxton's "4 (Ensemble) Compositions 1992" (Black Saint) and "Leipzig Duets" (Music & Arts), as well as on upcoming quartet, sextet, and "tentet" releases on Braxton's own Braxton House label and the forthcoming second Tzadik release by David Krakauer. Currently based in New York City, Ted also composes music for his own ensembles. Ted Reichman welcomes e-mail letters at:
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