Friday, July 28, 2006
Anthony Braxton - Composition 8J
Album - Saxophone Improvisations Series F
Recorded - 1972
There's something about the saxophone that makes it sound like the most human of instruments. Actually, writing that makes me think that the same is true of all wind instruments, and the reason for that is the breath. Breathing is fundamental to who we are, but we often fail to appreciate that. Listening to a virtuoso performance on a wind instrument reminds us of the ability of our breath to communicate enormous levels of power and emotion.
I say this in introduction to an Anthony Braxton piece, as on this particular track it is impossible to escape the breath. It's part of an album of solo saxophone performances entitled 'Saxophone Improvisations Series F' (on which it is also known by the more arcane 'NBH - 7C K7' - i've never made an attempt to understand Braxton's naming convention). Such is the intimacy of the recording that the listener can hear Braxton's breath, his fingers clacking on the keys
It has a sentimental air that suits my mood tonight (slightly spent, but content that it was all for the good). This mood is present on several other tracks on the album, along with a number of squawkers, as you might expect. There's much to admire in the piece - a definite sense of melody without a theme, for example. This approach can sound aimless in the hands of lesser talents, but in Braxton's capable hands there is a real sense that the track journeys from one melodic station to the next, quite effortlessly.