Anthony Braxton – Five Pieces 1975

1975 – Arista Records


I just picked this up today, so this post contains my first impression of the record. It starts with a duo, Braxton and Dave Holland, playing through the standard “You Stepped Out of a Dream”. Hearing those two play a standard is amazing, their phrasing and note choices are clearly their own, but they stick to the format of the classic model of jazz. From there this album opens up a bit. Kenny Wheeler and Barry Altschul join to make this a formidable quartet. Something that jumps out at me is the way the group is segmented. Sometimes the bass and drums are together, other times the bass and sax, other times the sax and trumpet, as well as other combinations that pop up. They utilize the groupings to make the listener feel like there are more than four instrumentalists recorded. Another high point is their commitment. For example, the last tune on the first side of the record features bass and drums hits that the trumpet and sax play the melody over. As the solos progress, the hits remain, but each instrument starts to go out of sync with the others. Sticking with that one idea instead of jumping into a more chaos infused solo section makes the song memorable. No one plays out of turn; all notes and silences are made for the overall benefit of each composition. This chord-less group, similar to the group on Holland’s Conference of the Birds, sub Sam Rivers for Wheeler, gets into some interesting territory. The freedom that they play with, in terms of feel, harmony, melody, time, is really something special. I haven’t heard an album from this time period (early to mid 70s) with these musicians that hasn’t been spectacular. If you are in a record store and happen upon any vinyl with these guys on it, pick it up!