You, me, the music, and me.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

ANTHONY BRAXTON & FRED FRITH Duo (Victoriaville) 2005

VICTO cd 100 (2006)

Each spring, the pleasant little city of Victoriaville, Quebec comes alive with the sounds of free jazz, improvisation, and noise rock. The Fesival Musique Actuelle has been going strong for over twenty years and has even spawned its own record label. For my 100th post, I thought I'd talk about Duo (Victoriaville) 2005, a live album recorded at last year's proceedings by saxophonist Anthony Braxton and guitarist Fred Frith that just happens to be the 100th release from Victo Records.

The album is broken into five tracks (ranging in length from three to nearly twenty-three minutes), but the recording is basically one uninterrupted performance totalling just under an hour. Frith utilises a number of effects on his electric guitar, while Braxton alternates between alto, soprano, and sopranino saxophone. The performance runs the gamut from actively noisy and grating to spacious and nearly silent (the beginning of "Improvisation No 4" is almost inaudible). Braxton and Frith respond to each other well throughout the concert, but it seems to take them a while to get on a common wavelength; the music doesn't really seem to gel until midway through "Improvisation No 3", which is about the halfway point of the album. Despite this, Duo is still a worthwhile document of this historic first meeting of two avant-garde titans.

(As a side note, I attended part of the festival; not only did I get to see and hear Braxton's sextet play two days after this concert, but I met Mr. Braxton himself, who turned out to be a very kind and gracious man who told me how wonderful it was to be in Canada. Hopefully this visit will not be his last.)


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