Anthony Braxton saxophone | Alessandro Giachero piano | Antonio Borghini double bass | Cristiano Calcagnile drums
Anthony Braxton’s periodical incursions in standards repertory are always a new way to think classical structures. His style is immediately clear: pixeling notes, sudden fastness, stretched sentences. A live recording with all the freshness one needs to be in deep touch with creativity and joyous interplay. Italian partners provide a vivid sustain, an evocative tone palette, a great rhythmic support and sincere brilliant solos.
An elegant cardboard 6 CD box (Decca style) including a 26 pages booklet with three little essays by Italian poet and writer Erika Dagnino:
Detailed biographies and quotes by featured musicians and a pre-faction by co-producer Gianni Mimmo of Amirani Records.
Recording _ 23-26 november 2006 LIVE at PP Café, Brussels, Belgium. sound engineer _ Michael Huon . mastering _ Jon Rosenberg. liner notes _ Erika Dagnino. translation _ Marco Bertoli. cover photo _ Agua Mimmo. inside photos _ Valentina Medda (Anthony Braxton), Elda Papa (Cristiano Calcagnile), Massimiliano Cobianchi (Antonio Borghini), Unknown (Alessandro Giachero). concept _ Gianni Mimmo. production _ Anthony Braxton and Gianni Mimmo for Amirani Records
Thanks to Marco Bertoli, Massimo Caviglione, Gennaro Fucile, Alessandro Achilli, Claudio Romano for their precious support.
ANTHONY BRAXTON QUARTET. STANDARDS – BRUSSELS – 2006
CD 1: — FOREST FLOWER(Charles Llooyd) — IT’S YOU OR NO ONE (j.Styne) — DARN THAT DREAM (Van Heusen) — improvisation n.1– VERY EARLY (Evans) — IF I SHOULD LODE YOU (Robin /Ranger)
CD 2: — VIRGO (take 2) (Shorter) — EMBARCADERO (Desmond) — NIGHT DREAMER (Shorter) — IT NEVER ENTERED MY MIND (Rodgers/Hart) — FINE AND DANDY (James/Swift) — MONK’S MOOD (Monk)
CD 3: — THREE LITTLE WORDS (Ruby) — WAVE (Jobim) — RUBY MY DEAR (Monk) — MEAN TO ME (Waller) — AFTERNOON IN PARIS (Lewis) — WHAT’S NEW (Haggart)
CD 4: — ALICE IN WONDERLAND ( F-ain/Hilliard) — AH LEU CHA (Parker) — FOR ALL WE KNOW ( Coots) — Improvisation n0.2 — TADD’S DELIGTH (Dameron) — ALL OF YOU (Porter)
CD 5: — I’M OLD FASHIONED (Kern) — EXX-THETICS (Russell) — HOW LITTLE WE KNOW (Springer/Leigh) — OUT TO LUNCH (Dolphy) — EARLY AUTUMN (Herman) — STAR EYES (De Paul)
CD 6: — ISRAEL (Carisi) — THESE FOOLISH THINGS (Strachey/Link/Marvell) — Improvisation no.3 — STRIKE UP THE BAND (Gershwin) — YOU’RE MY THRILL ((Clare/Gorney) — VIRGO (take 1) (Shorter)
Since the beginning of his solo career
Anthony Braxton apparently needs to move back to a more traditional environment, starting with “In The Tradition” in 1974, yet I have the impression that his standards releases are increasing over the years, especially in this century, but possibly in equal proportion to the rest of his impossible-to-keep-up-with output, with releases such as”8 Standards Wesleyan”, “20 Standards (quartet) 2003” album, the “23 Standards” album, there’s now “Standards (Brussels) 2006”, a nice 6-CD box with a 20-page booklet with texts by Italian author Erika Dagnino. The concept of a “standard” is also flexible in Braxton’s mind apparently, with pieces such as Charles Lloyd “Forest Flower” and George Russell’s “Exx-Tethic” also falling into the category. The original performance captured in this box was played on four consecutive nights in a Brussels bar, with an Italian trio consisting of Alessandro Giachero on piano, Antonio Borghini on bass and Cristiano Calcagnile on drums.
The repertoire has pieces by Gershwin, Fats Waller, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Thelonious Monk, Wayne Shorter, … with a totally different play-list for each evening. Sure, it is mainstream, the music flows along quite smoothly, post-boppish, with the three Italian musicians doing an excellent job, and Braxton plays along, he is possibly the one going the most outside the compositions, yet not too often, and – to his credit – he lets his band-members lots of space for soloing. The audience is fully involved, quietly listening, and applauding and reacting nicely. The best tracks are the ones on which the band turns the standard inside out, literally then, as on “Ezz-Tethic”, which, after the bass solo, moves into eery avant-garde territory, first getting rid of rhythm and harmonics, then re-building it with a hypnotic piano phrase and great sax-playing by Braxton.
I am not too sure whether the sequence of the tracks on the CDs correspond to the performance itself, but it is clear that on discs 5 and 6, the band seems to be more tuned to one another, which creates more possibilities for a broader freedom of approach. The “standard” still gets usual mainstream attention till halfway down the piece, and usually after the piano solo, for a second, free-er version to start, yet again ending in the main theme. The Gerschwin brothers would possibly have a hard time recognizing the second part of their “Strike Up The Band”, a track on which also Giachero turns wild. Throughout the sets Braxton’s alto gives a light, shimmering atmosphere to the music, which is further reinforced by the subtlety of touch of the accompanying trio. This is music which sounds relax at moments, intense at others, structured and free, played by a band that clearly enjoys the music they’re playing as much as how they can make it their own.
One downside of the box is that, even if the performance was recorded live, some tracks end in fade-outs, leaving the somewhat frustrating feeling that there is no reaction from the audience, but that’s just a minor comment on an otherwise impeccable set with excellent sound quality. — Stef Gjissels, freejazz-stef.blogspot.com, december 08
ANTHONY BRAXTON QUARTET
– Standards (Brussels) 2008 [6 CD set] (Amirani 14; Italy) Packaged in an elegant cartboard box (a decca style) which includes a 26 page booklet with three little essays (Positions for listening, Real space and dislocation, A possible anthropogony) by Italian poet and writer Erika Dagnino. Featuring Anthony Braxton on alto sax, Alessandro Giachero on piano, Antonio Borghini on double bass and Cristiano Calcagnile on drums. Recorded live November 23-26 2006 at P P Cafe in Brussels, Belgium. Although I didn’t initially recognize the names of the three Italian musicians that Mr. Braxton has chosen to play with, each comes from a diverse background of collaborations. Pianist Alessandro Giachero is a member of William Parker’s Italian Qt with Hamid Drake. Bassist Antonio Borghini is a member of the Bassesfere collective, as well as working with David Murray, Butch Morris, Ab Baars and Mary Halvorson. Drummer, Cristiano Calcagnile, is also a member of Bassesfere and has played with Damo Suzuki, Daniee D’Agaro, Rova Sax Qt and Tristan Honsinger.
This fine quartet covers some 34 standards, as well as a couple of group improvisations. The selection of standards runs from Broadway show tunes like “I’m Old Fashioned”, to “These Foolish Things” to “It’s You or No One” to more modern gems by Monk, “Monk’s Mood” and “Ruby My Dear”, Wayne Shorter, “Night Dreamer” and “Virgo” and even Eric Dolphy “Out to Lunch”. All composers that cast a long shadow of influence on modern jazz and certainly not east songs to cover. The first discs opens with Charles Lloyd’s “Forest Flower” from perhaps the most popular of Charles Lloyd’s sixties albums. It is a lovely song and Braxton makes it his own with a long, distinctive and spirited alto sax solo while Alessandro plays some exquisite piano. The rhythm team is consistently creative, swings hard and keeping a buoyant balance underneath each soloist. Alessandro Giachero is a fabulous pianist and takes one great solo after another on every one of these tunes he is featured on. I dig the way the rhythm team keeps Mr. Braxton on his toes by tightly supporting him wherever he goes. Even on the ballads, which Braxton often plays with in a straight forward fashion, he also injects subtle and sly twists to keeps things interesting. There are three group improvisations which are all great and show another, freer side to this amazing quartet. So far, I’ve listened to three of the six discs and will check out the last three tonight. Considering that this six disc box set is over six hours long, it is a most impressive excursion into Braxton’s unique way of interpreting standards with a super quartet of well-selected collaborators. — Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery, NYC, december 08
Once again it is time for a review
of another release with the brilliant saxofonist Anthony Braxton. Anthony Braxton plays, as always magnifficient on his alto saxophone, and this time he joins forces with three Italian musicians: Alessandro Giachero on piano, Antonio Borghini on bass and Cristiano Calcagnile on drums, here caught alive on 23-26 November 2006 at PP Cafe in Brussels, Belgium. This 6 CD box with a total playing time of more than 6 hours, contains of 36 tracks – 33 standards and 3 free improvisation and a 26-page booklet with interesting and informative notes by the Italian poet and writer Erika Dagnino. The material here presented are by as different composers as Charles Lloyd, Bill Evans, Wayne Shorter, Thelonious Monk, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Fats Waller, Charlie Parker, Cole Porter and Eric Dolphy. These interpretations of old familiar songs, is an impressive insight and introduction to the way that Braxton interprets standards on.
The three Italian musicians are doing a fantastic job, and is the perfect playmates for Braxton and his saxophone. Braxton goes in front as the natural leading figure, but provides plenty of room to the other musicians in various solos and improvisations. Braxton plays as always a lively and committed saxophone, and it is clear to the listener that is a unique musicians with complete track of what this is all about – the music. Alessandro is a very skilled pianist, takes the lead (in a good way) in one number after another, giving the numbers his own personal touch. Borghini and Calcagnile lies as the ultimate backing group, supporting the others with their tight and close playing on the bass and drums. The well-known numbers are drawn through the Braxton machine, turned so much inside out, that it sometimes is difficult to recognize the originals, as they are presented in their most free way sending chills down your back. This boxset is the most jazzy release, from the small Italian company Amirani Records, which so far has released more twisted and advandtgarde things, less accessible if you like, as is the case here. — Henrik Kaldahl, Jazznet Denmark, January 09
CD version (incl. shipment cost world-wide)
MP3 version (484MB zip download)