ANTHONY BRAXTON Quartet (London) 1985
Leo CD LR 200/201 (1990)
In 1985, Anthony Braxton took his working quartet on the road in Britain. Three of the shows on this tour were recorded and released by Leo Records, including this one at the Bloomsbury Theatre in London (it was also broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in 1987). Each disc of this double-CD contains one of two hour-long sets from the November 13th show. There are no track markings, but each set contains six compositions (or parts of compositions) with Braxton's usual "collage" method of including bits of other pieces occasionally coming into play. Braxton and his bandmates (pianist Marilyn Crispell, bassist Mark Dresser, and percussionist Gerry Hemingway) are in their usual fine form, with each responding to the others almost telepathically. Of the three double-disc sets available from Leo, this is probably the best; the sound quality is the brightest (though, unfortunately, still typical of the muddiness that Leo Records has problems with, especially on live recordings) and the performances are mostly white-hot and blazing (though occasional quiet passages provide a welcome change of pace). Braxton's music is still not for every jazz fan (and probably has more in common with twentieth-century "art" music) but Quartet (London) 1985 won't disappoint his acolytes.
(note: author Graham Lock travelled with the group during this time and, in addition to writing the liner notes for each album, wrote about the tour in his book Forces in Motion: The Music and Thoughts of Anthony Braxton, which is highly recommended not only for Braxton fans but for anyone looking for insight into the world of the touring creative musician.)