4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Crispell, Dresser, Hemingway "Play Braxton"

The merits of multi-instrumentalist, composer Anthony Braxton have been the source of much debate, and considerable derision in the jazz community for more than 40 years — but never in my house. To me, Braxton is an irrefutable genius and a singular visionary whose music will bear serious study for hundreds of years to come.

Braxton has always dreamed big, as borne out in his wildly ambitious realizations of ideas like Composition 19, for 100 tubas, or his masterwork For Four Orchestras. Still to come are plans for pieces played by musicians on different planets.

The criminally underrated pianist Marilyn Crispell, alongside contrabass magician Mark Dresser and the irrepressible drummer Gerry Hemingway teamed up with Braxton for more than 10 years in the longest standing format for the saxophonist's imagination as the Anthony Braxton Quartet.

That unit disbanded in 1994. Now, 18 years later, Crispell, Dresser and Hemingway reunite to Play Braxton on John Zorns's ever vital Tzadik record label.

Composition 116 begins with Crispell's splaying, hammered keys digging into the fractured repetitions while Dresser's gut-punch bass and Hemingway's gunshot percussion lead it all into a free exchange. Crispell turns in a bravura solo splitting between clanging harmonies and lightening -strike runs over the churning discourse of her trio-mates.

Dresser's cogent musculature introduces Composition 23C with lines that sing, wheeze and growl --huge sonorities that cover the frequency spectrum before all three players commit to the almost-Baroque repetitions of the melody.

On Composition 108C/110/69Q, Crispell leads off with a rhapsodic statement while Dresser bows away, setting an independent course as Hemingway rolls, chatters and chugs away with mallets. The bassist's arco sound is a huge, leviathan force that doesn't lose any steam when he switches to pizzicato--morphing into a powerful, pointed solo--especially when joined by the asymmetrical brush punctuations of the drums, which trade sonic spaces with the melodic unisons of bass and piano. Hemingway is capable of conjuring such force in a pianissimo dynamic--a remarkable feat that makes him stand out amongst his peers. Suddenly the trio is swinging with a wicked loping gait straight out of a cartoon dreamscape. When the drummer switches to sticks, he squeezes more drum solo into 30 seconds of space than seems humanly possible.

Dresser and Crispell join forces on the stop-and-start theme of Composition 69B, offset by the quasi-military cadences of Hemingway, who takes the first solo, building slowly from single thwacks to layers of multi-stroke rolls. Dresser follows, using his astonishing bi-tonal two-handed-tapping technique, then Crispell takes over with thunder-force clusters and furious rhythmic pounding--finally erupting into post-Cecil Taylor explosions of nervous, kinetic energy.

The trio saved the best for last--at nearly 13 minutes in length, the "medley" of Composition 40N/40B is a primal, joyous tour-de-force. Crispell begins the plinking theme with Dresser's arco shadowing every intention while Hemingway's (bowed cymbals?) evoke eerie bird-chirps. It all travels along a stately course; melody-for-melody's-sake as only Braxton could imagine it. Dresser's arco turns dark and forlorn like the groans of an agonized lover--but Crispell remains hewn to the stoic line. Somewhere near mid-point the group leaves 40N, and begins a "collage-improvisation" that edges toward the ecstatic melody of 40B--one of the quirkiest, most ebullient pieces Braxton has ever written. Hearing Dresser extrapolate on the "walking" bass line over Hemingway's "ting-ting-a-ting" is total sonic magic. Crispell sails over the surging, lunging rhythm with a fierce piano statement that swings, jabs, and explodes as Dresser and Hemingway bob, weave, and counterpunch below.

This is a must for creative music fans.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Smokey’s Lake Wohlford Cafe: old-school country diner

“I always sit here,” Neil says. “Been coming for 40 years.”
Next Article

The Field, with a view

Gaslamp is more fun with the street shut down

The merits of multi-instrumentalist, composer Anthony Braxton have been the source of much debate, and considerable derision in the jazz community for more than 40 years — but never in my house. To me, Braxton is an irrefutable genius and a singular visionary whose music will bear serious study for hundreds of years to come.

Braxton has always dreamed big, as borne out in his wildly ambitious realizations of ideas like Composition 19, for 100 tubas, or his masterwork For Four Orchestras. Still to come are plans for pieces played by musicians on different planets.

The criminally underrated pianist Marilyn Crispell, alongside contrabass magician Mark Dresser and the irrepressible drummer Gerry Hemingway teamed up with Braxton for more than 10 years in the longest standing format for the saxophonist's imagination as the Anthony Braxton Quartet.

That unit disbanded in 1994. Now, 18 years later, Crispell, Dresser and Hemingway reunite to Play Braxton on John Zorns's ever vital Tzadik record label.

Composition 116 begins with Crispell's splaying, hammered keys digging into the fractured repetitions while Dresser's gut-punch bass and Hemingway's gunshot percussion lead it all into a free exchange. Crispell turns in a bravura solo splitting between clanging harmonies and lightening -strike runs over the churning discourse of her trio-mates.

Dresser's cogent musculature introduces Composition 23C with lines that sing, wheeze and growl --huge sonorities that cover the frequency spectrum before all three players commit to the almost-Baroque repetitions of the melody.

On Composition 108C/110/69Q, Crispell leads off with a rhapsodic statement while Dresser bows away, setting an independent course as Hemingway rolls, chatters and chugs away with mallets. The bassist's arco sound is a huge, leviathan force that doesn't lose any steam when he switches to pizzicato--morphing into a powerful, pointed solo--especially when joined by the asymmetrical brush punctuations of the drums, which trade sonic spaces with the melodic unisons of bass and piano. Hemingway is capable of conjuring such force in a pianissimo dynamic--a remarkable feat that makes him stand out amongst his peers. Suddenly the trio is swinging with a wicked loping gait straight out of a cartoon dreamscape. When the drummer switches to sticks, he squeezes more drum solo into 30 seconds of space than seems humanly possible.

Dresser and Crispell join forces on the stop-and-start theme of Composition 69B, offset by the quasi-military cadences of Hemingway, who takes the first solo, building slowly from single thwacks to layers of multi-stroke rolls. Dresser follows, using his astonishing bi-tonal two-handed-tapping technique, then Crispell takes over with thunder-force clusters and furious rhythmic pounding--finally erupting into post-Cecil Taylor explosions of nervous, kinetic energy.

The trio saved the best for last--at nearly 13 minutes in length, the "medley" of Composition 40N/40B is a primal, joyous tour-de-force. Crispell begins the plinking theme with Dresser's arco shadowing every intention while Hemingway's (bowed cymbals?) evoke eerie bird-chirps. It all travels along a stately course; melody-for-melody's-sake as only Braxton could imagine it. Dresser's arco turns dark and forlorn like the groans of an agonized lover--but Crispell remains hewn to the stoic line. Somewhere near mid-point the group leaves 40N, and begins a "collage-improvisation" that edges toward the ecstatic melody of 40B--one of the quirkiest, most ebullient pieces Braxton has ever written. Hearing Dresser extrapolate on the "walking" bass line over Hemingway's "ting-ting-a-ting" is total sonic magic. Crispell sails over the surging, lunging rhythm with a fierce piano statement that swings, jabs, and explodes as Dresser and Hemingway bob, weave, and counterpunch below.

This is a must for creative music fans.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close