Anthony Braxton / Joe Morris
Four Improvisations (Duo) 2007

[Clean Feed Records, www.cleanfeed-records.com]

For their hundredth release, Portugal's jazz/improvised music imprint Clean Feed Records has chosen no less than a duo session from Anthony Braxton and Joe Morris. Spreading across 4 CDs, this set of music investigates in great detail improvisations that occurred between the two players over the span of two July days in 2007. While Morris plays only his electric guitar, Braxton arrives at the session with everything from sopranino, soprano, alto, baritone through to bass and contrabass saxophones. Each of the four discs is about an hour's worth of free improvisation. While on the first disc, the duo sounds as if they're testing the waters [Morris sounds a bit pensive, while Braxton gives an impression as if he's unsure whether to let his blows be more forceful], by the middle of the second disc, Braxton is howling through the field on his baritone, while Morris turns up the heat to match the blows. Through a series of direct thought processes, both players exude very robust demeanor. Melodic passages escape from these two every now and then. Just because this is billed as four improvisations, doesn't mean these two have given up on putting a coherent plan of action in place. Maybe nothing was written ahead of time. Just because this is the first time the duo has improvised together doesn't mean these improvisations are reduced to simple doodling on paper. By the time we reach the final disc, the duo has already worked out enough to understand the other's quarks. While the final improvisation starts off like some sort of a tender ballad - with Braxton playing some hushed waves - soon enough the duo go off into free territory. Several times throughout the course of the final disc, they break into high melodies that are vibrant. Should we be surprised that by this point they found their very own unique language? Absolutely not! This completely thrilling and [I'm guessing] fully unedited set of music sets out a new standard by which future Braxton duo records will be measured.

- Tom Sekowski


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