Sunday, April 8, 2018

Joseph Jarman / Anthony Braxton - 1974 - Together Alone

Joseph Jarman / Anthony Braxton 
Together Alone

01. Together Alone 5:39
02. Dawn Dance One 13:46
03. Morning (Including Circles) 2:18
04. CK7 (GN) 436 6:10
05. SBN-A-1 66K 14:53

Recorded December 29, 1971.

Contrabass Clarinet, Alto Saxophone, Piano, Flute, Voice – Anthony Braxton
Synthesizer, Flute, Soprano Saxophone, Sopranino Saxophone, Alto Saxophone, Bells, Voice, Mixed

The album opens with three Jarman compositions. The title track finds both Braxton and Jarman on alto saxophone spinning long, languid, serene, and melancholy unison lines; the path eventually forks and Braxton takes on a more rugged and jagged trail while Jarman's remains smooth and flowing. Despite the musical separation, the saxophones remain inextricably linked. One of the AACM approaches Radano surely refers to on this recording is the integration of silence and space. At times, the music goes against the grain of time, and other moments it rejects it altogether. Leaving the music strewn with gaps of silence rather than opting for a total sound density, the AACMers were among the first in jazz to exploit space as a compositional tool.

The opening track flows into "Dawn Dance." Braxton moving to piano and Jarman picking up his flute. Oblique, spacious keyboard punctuations-including some compelling inside-the-piano tinkling—provide a bed for Jarman's outpourings which range from gentle, highly lyrical dreamweaving to almost sharp, stuttered jags. The brief "Morning (Including Circles)" leaps from a soothing peal of hand bells into dense cacophony. Amid myriad layers of sound, the static bells become suddenly abrasive, Braxton and Jarman shouting out of sync, while their shrill horns seem to simulate electronic white noise. It's an exhilarating, early ascent into coarse textural exploration.

Braxton's "Composition 21" ("CK7 [GN]") elaborates the textural layering on a grander scale. Flutes, piano, contrabass clarinet, alto sax. whistles, and abstract, sometimes jarring sounds on electronic tape provide an extremely dense sonic collage, yet once one abides by the superficial level of chaos, it becomes obvious that Braxton's sound sculpture is most certainly ordered and well-conceived. Finally. Braxton's lengthy "Composition 20" ("SBN-A-1 66K") constructs a fine tension between lyrical horn lines (his contrabass clarinet and Jarman's soprano saxophone) and an almost static but changing ring of jingling bells. The bells develop in complexity throughout the composition, providing an increasing tension with the horns. Although the bells suggest no melody, their pattern becomes more and more dense harmonically, while the attack of the horns doesn't fluctuate.

Aside from being the only duet recording there is between these two masters. Together Alone is far more than just a curious meeting. Elaborating on AACM concepts with lessons learned in Paris, its exciting combination of one-on-one collaboration with through-composed material sounds more vibrant and vital than ever, over four decades since it was recorded. 

A rare set of duets between these two Chicago avant jazz giants – recorded in 1971, when the influence of the AACM's time in Paris was being felt strongly in their return to the windy city. Apart from the usual mad array of instruments that you'd expect from these players – like Braxton on clarinet, alto, piano, and voice; and Jarman on saxes and percussion – some tracks also feature Jarman playing synthesizer, which adds in a very strange element to the session.

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