Quartet (Coventry) 1985

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: Leo Records
PERFORMER: Anthony Braxton (alto, c-melody, sopranino saxophones, clt); Marilyn Crispell (p); Mark Dresser (b); Gerry Hemingway (d)
CATALOGUE NO: LR 204/205

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These discs record the Warwick University concert, the last of the Braxton Quartet’s 1985 UK tour (its earlier London and Birmingham concerts are on discs 200/201 and 202/203). This catches it at a peak of creative rapport, romping through its leader’s complex but exhilarating music with infectious enthusiasm and virtuosity.

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Superficially resembling free improvisation in its overall sound, the music is, in fact, a mix of densely composed material, structured improvisation and improvised solo passages, the whole being one of the most intense and rewarding recordings of live jazz available. Close attention to Graham Lock’s erudite sleevenotes, and to his two half-hour informal interviews with Braxton, is recommended for complete enjoyment of this uniquely stimulating music. Chris Parker