Anthony Braxton is known for creative jazz composition and performance, but this release explores his more under-appreciated side – modern classical. Composition No. 146 (Moogie and Stetson) features twelve flutes and two tubas, backed by one percussionist. Conducted by Taylor Ho Bynum, this 29-minute piece was recorded one year ago at New York’s Roulette.
Not surprisingly given the lineup, the flutes take on the more obvious lead melodies, with the tubas carrying on mostly in the background. The flutes play together in varying groups, usually resulting in two or three main voices, while the tubas do their own thing. Occasionally, the latter take the forefront in duets. As a whole, the piece is replete with angular compositions and discordance. Between the flutes and percussion, a Varese-like atmosphere is produced.
It is hard for any new recording to stand out in Braxton’s large oeuvre, but this one exhibits a singular presence. Recommended alike for Braxton fans and those who appreciate the challenges and rewards of 21st century composition.