Creative Construction Company
01. Muhal (Part I)
02. Muhal (Part II) / Live Spiral
Alto Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Clarinet, Flute, Wind Chimes – Anthony Braxton
Bass – Richard Davis
Cello, Piano, Clarinet, Piano – Muhal Richard Abrams
Drums, Percussion – Steve McCall
Trumpet, Flugelhorn, French Horn, Horns [Seal Horn], Percussion – Leo Smith
Violin, Viola, Recorder, Xylophone [Toy], Harmonica, Horns [Bicycle] – Leroy Jenkins
Recorded on May 19, 1970 at Washington Square Methodist Church (Peace Church NYC).
Braxton moved to Paris in June 1969, hot on the heels of Roscoe Mitchell, Joseph Jarman, Malachi Favors and Lester Bowie, a quartet who in Paris took on the name “the Art Ensemble of Chicago.” Braxton soon gigged with the Art Ensemble, and also recorded with European based musicians like Gunther Hampel and Jacques Coursil. As he rode in a taxi from the train station on arrival, Braxton saw fellow AACM member Steve McCall on the street. Soon McCall would join Braxton, violinist Leroy Jenkins and trumpeter Leo Smith in a quartet sometimes called the “Anthony Braxton Quartet” or the “Creative Construction Company.”
Although “Creative Construction Company” did not come out until the mid-70s, this is actually a recording of a concert in May 1970. Also, even though this is the first album to bear the name of the group, this is actually a continuation of the same group Anthony Braxton led on his first two albums, only its a slightly larger ensemble this time around. This is an all-star group, with the core trio of Braxton, Leo Smith and LeRoy Jenkins augmented with Muhal Richard Abrams, Steve Davis and Steve McCall. Some critics think that adding a rhythm section to the original trio destroyed some of their more sensitive interplay, and this may be true, but really what is recorded here is just a different type of music than the original trio, but not necessarily worse.
Along with The Art Ensemble of Chicago and others within Chicago’s AACM, the CCC presented a new style of free jazz improvisation. Unlike the more emotive and solo based excursions of the NYC crowd, the new Chicago scene favored group interplay and building ensemble tone colors instead of incendiary solos. This album represents this new style well with a fascinating 36 minute excursion that winds its way through many different textures and distinct sections. LeRoy Jenkins is credited with being the composer, and there does seem to be some sort of loose leadership to point the way from one section to the next.
Several of the musicians on here can play more than one instrument, which adds to all the tone colors available to them as they navigate from quiet string duos, to noise makers and percussion, to shrieking horns and pounding drums. All of this music has a nice flow to it, as if there was a conducted beat as in a concert hall piece. Overall an excellent album and a notch above much of the other avant-garde jazz albums of the time.