Anthony Braxton

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Anthony Braxton, Moers Jazz Festival, May 26th 2007

Anthony Braxton (born June 4, 1945 in Chicago ) is an American composer and multi-instrumentalist (including alto saxophone and piano ) of the Modern Creative .

life and work

Braxton learned the saxophone at the age of 15; his idol was initially Paul Desmond . At the age of 17 he began studying music at Chicago Musical College and philosophy at Roosevelt University . After playing clarinet and alto saxophone in the military, he moved back to Chicago and joined the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians . In 1968 he founded his first group, the Creative Construction Company, with Leroy Jenkins and Wadada Leo Smith and released his first record. He was also active as a professional chess player and during a long stay in Europe around 1970 he also joined the European avant-garde of both jazz ( Gunter Hampel , Globe Unity Orchestra , Derek Bailey ) and new music (e.g. Iannis Xenakis , Edgar Varèse , Karlheinz Stockhausen ) in contact.

Braxton introduced both the double bass saxophone and the sopranino and the double bass clarinet to jazz. He was already engaged in the use of computers and electronic instruments in the mid-1970s. In the 1990s, Braxton began playing piano in addition to woodwind instruments. After he deliberately renounced rhythmic intensity for a long time and strived for a staccato tone formation, which earned him the accusation that his music was “too white”, his playing is now consistently ascribed “rhythmic strength, flexibility, imagination and warmth”.

Braxton was the first jazz musician to record an entire double album of unaccompanied alto saxophone solos. His quartet from the 1970s (initially with Chick Corea , Dave Holland and Barry Altschul ) is one of the most important groups in creative jazz . He performed successfully at numerous festivals (between 1974 and 1978 annually in Moers , 1976 and 1979 also at the Newport Jazz Festival ). In the 1980s and 1990s he played mostly with Marilyn Crispell , Mark Dresser and Gerry Hemingway .

Braxton's work is very well documented and has been published on more than two hundred albums. As a special plate successes, his solo albums as proven Saxophone Improvisations, Series F (1972), then in 1974 a recording of standards with European musicians, Five Pieces in 1975 , with the Prix de l'Académie de Jazz excellent Creative Orchestra Music 1976, Time Zones ( 1976) with Richard Teitelbaum , Elements of Surprise (1976) with George Lewis and recordings with Derek Bailey's Company .

Braxton composes orchestral music , influenced by Charles Ives , Harry Partch and John Cage , and has written operas such as Shala Fears for the Poor (1996) and Trillium E (2010). Much of his music is jazz-oriented. In his game practice he also follows up on the free concepts of Vinko Globokar and Frederic Rzewski . He created a large number of highly complex works, which, however, “do not belong to any traditional work aesthetic”; rather, they are “deconstructed, remixed, and painted over by the composer himself. His compositions are the first layer, a basic sound material that - depending on the course of the concert - is or should be available at any time ”and on the one hand alternates with improvisations, on the other hand it is contrasted with other compositions and played at the same time. Sometimes Braxton also experimented with very unusual ensembles and wrote pieces for 100 tubas or for four orchestras, but also wrote for classical ensembles such as for string quartet 8KN- (B-12) -R10 (1986). Sometimes he uses diagrams for his graphic notation and the names of the compositions, which are reminiscent of mathematical formulas.

Braxton was a professor at Mills College in Oakland from 1985 and has been a professor of music at Wesleyan University since 1990 . In 1985 he presented his three-volume music-philosophical and theoretical work Tri-Axium-Writings .

His son Tyondai Braxton is a professional musician and is best known as a (former) member of the Battles .

Prizes and awards

In the late 1970s and early 1980s Braxton took first and foremost places in the Down Beat polls on various instruments . In 1995 he received the Genius Grant from the Mac Arthur Foundation . As announced in June 2013, he will receive the NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship, the highest American award for jazz musicians in 2014 .

Discographic notes

  • 1968 Three Compositions of New Jazz
  • 1968 For Alto
  • 1969 Anthony Braxton [Affinity]
  • 1971 Récital Paris [live] / Futura
  • 1971 Together Alone Delmark
  • 1971 Circle: Paris Concert [live]
  • 1972 Donna Lee
  • 1972 Saxophone Improvisations, Series F
  • 1972 Town Hall [live]
  • 1973 Four Compositions
  • 1974 In the Tradition, Vol. 1
  • 1974 In the Tradition, Vol. 2
  • 1974 Quartet Live at Moers New Jazz Festival
  • 1974 Duo, Vols. 1 and 2
  • 1974 First Duo Concert [live]
  • 1974 Trio and Duet Sackville
  • 1974 New York, Fall
  • 1974 Live at Wigmor
  • 1975 Five Pieces
  • 1975 Anthony Braxton Live
  • 1975 The Montreux / Berlin Concerts [live]
  • 1975 Live
  • 1976 Creative Orchestra Music
  • 1976 Elements of Surprise: Braxton / Lewis Duo
  • 1976 duets
  • 1976 Donaueschingen (duo)
  • 1976 Quartet (Dortmund) [live]
  • 1976 Solo: Live at Moers Festival
  • 1978 Creative Orchestra (Cologne)
  • 1978 For Four Orchestras
  • 1978 Alto Saxophone Improvisations (1979)
  • 1978 Birth and Rebirth (Max Roach feat.Anthony Braxton)
  • 1978 NW5-9M4: For Trio
  • 1981 Six Compositions: Quartet
  • 1981 Composition 98
  • 1984 Szabraxtondos (duet with György Szabados ; Hungarian Radio Record; LP Krém SLPX 17909)
  • 1988 Six Monk's Compositions (1987)
  • 1989 Seven Compositions
  • 1989 Eight (+3) Tristano Compositions 1989: For Warne Marsh
  • 1993 Anthony Braxton's Charlie Parker Project
  • 1995 10 Compositions (Duet) (with Joe Fonda )
  • 1997 A Memory of Vienna (with Ran Blake )
  • 2003 20 Standards (Quartet)
  • 2004 Shadow Company
  • 2004 4 improvisations (duets)
  • 2005 Quintet (London) 2004 Live at the Royal Festival Hall
  • 2006 Compositions 175 & 126 (for Four Vocalists and Constructed Environment) [with The Creative Jazz Orchestra]
  • 2006 Sextet (Victoriaville) 2005
  • 2006 Duo (Victoriaville) 2005 (Anthony Braxton & Fred Frith)
  • 2006 Black Vomit (Wolf Eyes & Anthony Braxton)
  • 2006 9 Compositions (Iridium)
  • 2007 Creative Orchestra (Bolzano) (with Italian Instabile Orchestra )
  • 2008 The Complete Arista Recordings of Anthony Braxton (1974–1980)


  • Triaxium Writings . Volumes 1-3, 1985.
  • Composition Notes . Volumes A-E, 1988.


  • Ford, Alun: Anthony Braxton: (Creative Music Continuum). Stride, 2004.
  • Heffley, Mike : The Music Of Anthony Braxton. Greenwood, 1996.
  • Hoyer, Timo : Music for the 21st Century. Anthony Braxton. In: testcard, 15 (2006), pp. 242-245.
  • Hoyer, Timo: Notoriously in the river. Anthony Braxton's irrepressible productivity. In: Neue Zeitschrift für Musik , 4 (2014), pp. 54–55.
  • Hoyer, Timo: Variants of virtuosity. Innovations by jazz avant-garde artist Anthony Braxton. In: Phleps, Thomas (ed.): Faster, higher, louder. Virtuosity in popular music. Bielefeld 2017, pp. 23–39.
  • Lock, Graham: Forces in Motion: The Music and Thoughts of Anthony Braxton. Da Capo, 1989.
  • Lock, Graham: Mixtery (A Festschrift For Anthony Braxton). Stride, 1995.
  • Lock, Graham: Blutopia: Visions of the Future and Revisions of the Past in the Work of Sun Ra, Duke Ellington, and Anthony Braxton. Duke University, 2000.
  • Radano, Ronald Michael: New Musical Figurations (Anthony Braxton's Cultural Critique), University of Chicago, 1994.
  • Wilson, Peter Niklas: Anthony Braxton. His life. His music. His records. Oreos, 1993.

Web links

Commons : Anthony Braxton  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Stefan Hetzel Black Schopenhauer
  2. See Martin Kunzler : Jazz-Lexikon. Volume 1: A – L (= rororo-Sachbuch. Vol. 16512). 2nd Edition. Rowohlt, Reinbek near Hamburg 2004, ISBN 3-499-16512-0 .
  3. ^ Burkhard Stangl : Anthony Braxton (2005) . In the S. Hommage à moi: On holding the fugitive 2001, ISBN 3901941371