Anthony Braxton/Wadada Leo Smith Organic Resonance Review

Album. Released 2003.  

BBC Review

Longterm friends and collaborators Braxton and Smith in an intimate duet setting...

Peter Marsh 2003

Braxton and Smith's musical relationship began in 1960s Chicago in the early days of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. Since then their paths have crossed infrequently (at least on record), but their mutual admiration has remained strong.

Despite differing approaches, both men have seen themselves as composers as much as improvisers, devoted to Boulez and Stockhausen as much as to Charlie Parker or John Coltrane. It's a stance which has seen Braxton in particular marginalised by critics and fellow musicians alike, who've viewed such aspirations with suspicion. Interestingly, such aspirations have never seemed to be a problem for white jazz musicians...

Recorded live at New York's Tonic club, Organic Resonance is stripped, spare stuff from just a trumpet and saxophone. It's possible to follow the compositional threads and really immerse yourself in the improvised dialogues; sometimes knotty, sometimes tender, sometimes furiously abstract.

Very broadly speaking Smith opts for bold, vivid strokes of tone colour, while Braxton's compositions 314 and 315 (complete with their attendant graphics of course) are pointillist, urgent investigations of rhythmic interrelationships. In reality it's much more complex than that, but hopefully you get the picture.

What struck me most strongly on my third or fourth listen was how intimate, warm and beautiful this music is; it's almost as if what was once shocking and confrontational forty years ago(Braxton remembers an audience in Paris throwing rocks) is now familiar, almost reassuring. I hope that Braxton and Smith would take that as a compliment and as a sign that maybe, at last, their audience is catching up with them.

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