As he indicated in his liner note essay for the CD,
“In the Tradition: Volume One,” multi-instrumentalist and
composer, Anthony Braxton (1945 – ), chose to record
music on this disc that was familiar to his fellow musicians.
This was primarily due to the fact that Braxton himself
was a last-minute replacement for tenor saxophonist
Dexter Gordon (1923-1990), who had been ordered to
rest by his doctor. There was virtually no time for rehearsal.
When he learned of the other three musicians that were
participating in the session, Braxton accepted this sudden
invitation, and the result is a highly charged blowing
session of six Jazz standards, performed in 48 minutes.
The recording was done at Rosenberg Studio in Copenhagen,
Denmark on May 29, 1974. Joining Braxton were pianist
Tete Montoliu (1933-1997), bassist Niels-Henning Ørsted
Pedersen (1946-2005), and drummer Albert “Tootie” Heath
(1935 – ). During the session, Braxton doubled on alto
saxophone and contrabass clarinet, the instruments for
which he is best known.
The songs performed included Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life,”
“Marshmallow” by Warne Marsh, “Ornithology” by Charlie
Parker, “Trane’s Blues” by John Coltrane, Charles Mingus’
“Goodbye Porkpie Hat,” and “Just Friends” by John Klenner
and Sam Lewis. I was naturally curious to hear a
contrabass clarinet in this setting, and Braxton played it
on “Goodbye Porkpie Hat,” and “Ornithology.” While it was
an interesting novelty, the results were more “curious” than
“effective. However in the interests of fairness, I’ll suspend
further judgement until I hear more performances of this
instrument in a Jazz setting. In fact, “Goodpie Porkpie Hat”
was a duet between Braxton and Ørsted-Pedersen on
bowed bass, and the results were…interesting…The question
is will I ever likely hear a solo contrabass clarinet
performance from anyone other than Braxton?
On the other four Jazz standards, Braxton’s alto sax
sounded great, solidly within the Jazz/Bop tradition.
The other three players perfectly meshed together for
a stimulating and enjoyable session from seasoned
professionals. Freddy Hansson (1941 – ) did a wonderful
job of recording these performances, and I highly
recommend this disc.