Source: Walker Art Center.
Jazz and the broader worlds of creative black music have been important parts of the Walker Art Center’s Performing Arts program since its inception. In the early 1960s the volunteer-run Center Arts Council began presenting genre-defining, totemic black jazz figures, often introducing their music to the Upper Midwest for the first time. While the Walker’s programming has over decades involved many leading figures in jazz and experimental music across racial, generational, cultural, and transnational lines, this volume of the Living Collections Catalogue—Creative Black Music at the Walker: Selections from the Archives—focuses on a select group of influential black artists who came to the fore in the ’60s and ’70s and appeared at the Walker multiple times, each having an indelible impact on US musical culture.
Source: Downtown Music Gallery.
I bought my first two albums by Anthony Braxton in 1974 (’New York, Fall 1974’) and 1975 (‘Five Pieces 1975’), both of which were on the Arista/Freedom label. Those records changed my life, my understanding of modern jazz at that point. I had only started buying jazz records in 1972 when I was a freshman at Glassboro State College in South Jersey. I hadn’t heard much about Mr. Braxton before that, aside from some journalists panning/misunderstanding Braxton’s early solo sax 2 LP set, ‘For Alto’ (from 1968). But those first two Arista records were a breath of fresh air and Braxton was working with Kenny Wheeler, George Lewis, Dave Holland & Barry Altschul, all of whom would become heroes of my friends & myself. Mr. Braxton went on to make another dozen albums for Arista, all different and all worth checking out. They were released as a box set on Mosaic but are long out of print. I went back to discover his Braxton’s earlier records with other members of the AACM and discovered even more riches, more treasures to savor. I have been a Braxton fan-addict ever since and have heard him in concert many times and have collected a large quantity of records from his vast 50 year career. Along with Sun Ra (one of Braxton’s main inspirations) or perhaps Duke Ellington, Mr. Braxton might have more releases than any other 20th/21st century composer. I was honored to actually meet and hang out with Mr. Braxton a couple of times nearly a decade ago, first when he wanted to sell off the old Braxton House label back catalogue and then when he did an in-store at DMG (when we were on the Bowery), signing copies of his Iridium box set and graciously meeting & shaking hands with his many of his fans for three hours that day. Later on the day we went across the street and had dinner at a thai restaurant that used to be the Tin Place avant/jazz club that existed during the loft jazz days. While we ate, Braxton was interviewed by Ted Pankin for Downbeat and he asked some tough questions. His answers were long and fascinating, I can still hear him describing the essence of Ghost Trance Music, a decade-long style of music that he had invented and which had continually evolved. After teaching at Wesleyan University for a long period, Mr. Braxton finally retired from academia and now works hard on his music and the Tricentric Foundation, which documents his music and encourages other musicians and composers with grants and other sources of inspiration.
Today is Anthony Braxton’s 75th birthday. This year was supposed to feature performances of Braxton material at venues worldwide, but the vast majority of that has been canceled. Today, we also finished our run of Braxton75 celebratory posts. Many thanks to Chris de Chiara for curating that material. The entires series can be found at AMN Celebrates Braxton75.
In the mean time, the Tricentric Foundation has sent out some news:
Today, we celebrate Anthony Braxton’s 75th birthday with the release of Duo (Improv) 2017, his newest boxset in musical conversation with Eugene Chadbourne, eight CDs plus a digital bonus track available only on Bandcamp. Thank you to the many people who pre-ordered! More than a third of our stock has already found new homes which should ship in about two weeks, if not earlier. For those who can, we kindly ask you to consider purchasing tomorrow, June 5th, which is a no-fee day on Bandcamp.
Also in celebration of Anthony’s birthday, we are adding to our collection of accessible items Anthony Braxton’s Catalog of Works, currently nearly 90 pages of material continually being updated. Please feel free to browse and enjoy!
The Tri-Axium Writings too is moving forward. The TAW team is well into the proofing process. We will continue to keep you posted.
Please consider supporting Tri-Centric so that we can continue to preserve and disseminate Anthony Braxton’s work. No amount is too small!
Coming up, Thumbscrew – with Tomas Fujiwara, Mary Halvorson and Michael Formanek – will release The Anthony Braxton Project on July 24th from Cuneiform Records.
Last month, the ensemble Tropos released an album featuring many Anthony Braxton compositions.
Please be on the lookout for more news coming soon including a rare Anthony Braxton solo performance video.