Duets (Wesleyan) 2002

Duets (Wesleyan) 2002

The sound of synchronicity
Anthony Braxton
Taylor Ho Bynum
Anthony Braxton
Taylor Ho Bynum
Catalog Number: 

Middletown, CT

Release Date: 
Dec 12, 2002
Liner Notes: 
1 CD
One Sheet: 

Anthony Braxton is one of the most important figures in creative music of the 20th, and now 21st, century. The MacArthur award winning composer and multi-reed instrumentalist has been expanding the boundaries of music since his emergence in the AACM in the 1960s. In a career encompassing diverse projects ranging from solo saxophone to multiple orchestra, duets have consistently served Braxton as a favorite vehicle of expression. Recorded encounters include work with Max Roach, Muhal Richard Abrams, Derek Bailey, Joseph Jarman, Marilyn Crispell, George Lewis, Richard Teitelbaum, Roscoe Mitchell, Ran Blake, and many others. However, despite long associations with such master artists as Leo Smith and Kenny Wheeler, Braxton had never recorded duets with a trumpeter (or, in this case, cornetist), until this meeting with Taylor Ho Bynum. 

Cornetist and composer Taylor Ho Bynum was born in 1975 and raised in Boston. Through his work with the Fully Celebrated Orchestra (see innova 567) and in his own projects, he has established himself as a unique musician willing to take chances in a wide variety of contexts. He is a leading creative force in the Boston music scene and beyond, and has worked with such luminaries as Cecil Taylor, Bill Dixon, and, of course, Anthony Braxton. 

Duets (Wesleyan) 2002 features two Braxton compositions (the first recorded examples of his post-Ghost Trance music!) and three compositions of Bynum's, plus a free improvisation. Intimately recorded, with every breath and subtlety preserved, this album shows two musicians interacting at the peak of their abilities. The music moves beyond labels like "free jazz" or "new music", creating something fresh, something exciting, and something that resonates in our time.



This disc, with the fine young cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum, is certainly one of Braxton's superior collaborations. If anyone, Bynum is a bit reminiscent of Leo Smith, but he brings along an arsenal of attacks and techniques that align him more with forward-looking brass players like Axel Durner and Greg Kelley. There are two Braxton compositions here, the prolific musician having passed the 300 mark in his personal catalog of pieces. Duets [Wesleyan] 2002 closes with another Braxton work, "Composition 305 (+ Language Improvisation, 44)," a fascinating piece making spare and spiky use of space with jagged lines and breathy flurries abutting each other. Bynum, perhaps wielding what's listed in the credits as the "trumpbone," is superb here, opening swathes of virgin territory for Braxton to saunter into. Even Braxton's biggest fans are often overwhelmed by the sheer volume of his recording and have difficulty deciding which ones are must-haves. This is definitely one to put on that list. - Brian Olewnick



Apparently the duo is Bynum's ideal setting. How else to explain the sheer joy that leaps out of "Duets (Wesleyan) 2002"? Bynum's whinnying horn alternately teases, challenges, cajoles and pushes Braxton into one of the most colorful and extroverted outings I have ever heard from the legendary reedist and conceptualist. . . Anyone who contends that Braxton's playing lacks humor or humanity needs to hear this CD. Hell, anyone who loves jazz needs to hear this CD. - John Chacona


In an interview with the record label New Albion published on their Web site, legendary saxophonist and AACM alumni Anthony Braxton shows disdain for musicians who use "the concept free jazz as an excuse for not practicing, not trying to evolve." On this recording for innova, featuring collaborations with Braxton and multi-faceted brass player Taylor Ho Bynum, it is evident that these two not only practice but also come to the table with minds filled with ideas that ooze out with audible passion. They are more than able to reconcile the frenetic spontaneity of free jazz with the organized structure of classical music.