Album Review

Braxton, Anthony Quartet – “Standards (Brussels) 2006” – [Amirani Records]

Naysayer   5/5/2015   CD, Jazz

Anthony Braxton, jazz saxophonist extraordinaire, and his Quartet are represented in these CDs which chronicle a series of concerts given in Brussels in 2006. The three other musicians are Italians, one Alessandro Giachero on piano, Antonio Borghini on double bass and Cristiano Calcagnile on drums. These guys are not slouches. No sir. Their collective list of who they performed with is a stunning testament to diversity and skill. Braxton, of course, needs little to no introduction.
Braxton’s saxophone playing is stupendous, with so many layers of emotion coming through. His sax has such a unique sound, as if it is made from some different type of metal. I can’t put my finger on it but the sound is just off enough to be right. The interpretations of these standards are varied. Some times they are fairly straight forward takes on a classic, but more often than not the standard acts simply as the foundation for much musical exploration. When listening to these 6 CD’s I kept thinking of this children’s toy which starts out as a ball, and then can be “pulled apart” where it expands to something like 3 to 4 feet across! Then, in an instant, it can be put back to its original ball shape. This is how this quartet plays music together. The standard is played, fairly straight, and then before you know it the expanding, the whirring in and out of the song structure takes over. The musicians interplay is outstanding, commenting on each others playing, challenging their peers tunes while responding to what was put forth before. It is masterful, glorious… and fun. A superb addition to our library

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