5 min read

On the Record

Keeping tabs on new and pending recordings of interest to the new-music community, on CD, vinyl LP, cassette, and digital-only formats—with Anthony Braxton news and the Album of the Week by Tropos.
On the Record

If you’re encountering On the Record column for the first time today, welcome! If you used to follow the column on National Sawdust Log, welcome back! In the initial installment, on January 12, 2018, I revealed the inspiration behind the undertaking:

A show of hands, please: Who out there remembers International CD Exchange? Better known as ICE,  the newsletter Pete Howard published from 1987 until 2006 was a monthly trove of neatly organized listings for upcoming CD releases, along with tantalizing details about noteworthy and special projects well in advance of their arrival. Howard started ICE when only a few hardy collectors cared about CDs, and kept it going and growing long enough to become the go-to source for the format’s boom years.

What’s important to know about this new incarnation is that this initial installment is being delivered to everyone, free of charge. From now on, I’ll review at least one new recording each week in the newsletter, to be be accompanied with a list of newly announced forthcoming releases, and those, too, will be for everyone. But a comprehensive list of upcoming recordings, continuously updated, will become the first value-added gesture meant to thank readers who’ve elected to support Night After Night with a paid subscription.

So come on, let’s go for a spin…

On the Record rounds up details about new and pending recordings of interest to the new-music community: contemporary classical music and jazz, electronic and electroacoustic music, and idioms for which no clever genre name has been coined, on CD, vinyl LP, cassette, digital-only formats… you name it.

This list of release dates is culled from press releases, Amazon, Bandcamp, and other online stores and sources, social-media posts, and online resources such as Discogs. Dates cited correspond to U.S. release of physical recordings, for the most part, and are subject to change. (Links to Amazon, where used, do not imply endorsement.)

These listings are not comprehensive—nor could they be! To submit a forthcoming recording for consideration, email information to nightafternight@icloud.com.

Anthony Braxton, Heavyweight Boxer

Duo (Improv) 2017, exploded view
Photograph: courtesy Tri-Centric Foundation

Duo (Improv) 2017, newly available for pre-order via New Braxton House on Bandcamp, is the latest king-size box set from multi-instrumentalist and composer Anthony Braxton, a past master of prodigious releases. The box set – which previously was available briefly from Braxton’s Tri-Centric Foundation last year, as a fund-raising perk to get his Tri-Axium Writings revised and republished – finds Braxton sparring congenially with the idiosyncratic improviser Eugene Chadbourne, who plays acoustic and electric guitars, banjos, and bajo sexto.

Chadbourne also provides wooly, freewheeling liner notes that detail – sometimes uproariously – his largely aspirational past dealings with Braxton while navigating New York’s avant-garde music scene, as well as the sessions at hand:

From the many conversations at the sessions one observation stuck out, when Braxton said that he and I had “made our lives in music.” I know well what we have in common through these lives—we both took lots of shit and lots of compliments, people hated us, loved us, we did whatever the hell we felt like doing no matter what anyone had to say. The appropriate quote here would be what my dad yelled out the window one night in the middle of an argument: “To hell with the neighbors!”

The duo’s playfully intense, gregariously communicative sessions were recorded at Firehouse 12 in New Haven, CT, on November 27-30, 2017. The set is available in physical form on eight CDs plus a 16-page booklet with notes by Chadbourne, or in a variety of digital formats, including lossless, with the booklet in PDF form. (The download generously includes a bonus ninth track.)

The set will be released officially on Thursday, June 4: Braxton’s 75th birthday. But a word to the wise: If you order on Friday, June 5, during Bandcamp’s next fees-waived sale, more of your funds will find their way directly to the artists and label.

Album of the Week

Photograph: Marena Lin

Axioms // 75ab

Far too few artists and groups have taken up Anthony Braxton’s canon and run with it: a pity, really, given how approachable and playful much of his early small-group music in particular tends to be. James Carter proved the point resoundingly with a hard-driving account of “Composition 40Q” on his 1996 LP, Conversin’ with the Elders, trading blows with the late, great baritone saxophonist Hamiet Bluiett. (Listen for their sly quote of “When Johnny Comes Marching Home,” midstream—a wryly Braxtonian gesture.)

Now, here comes Tropos, a brash young band jointly led by pianist Phillip Golub and drummer Mario Layne Fabrizio. Established in 2018 when its members were all studying in the Jazz and  Contemporary Improvisation programs at the New England Conservatory, the group cites Braxton, Cecil Taylor, and Albert Ayler as foundational influences on its collective-composition ethos. You can hear aspects of that ancestry in the first half of Axioms // 75ab, newly released on Fabian Almazan’s Biophilia record label… listen, for example, to the spontaneous marching-band pattern that erupts close to the end of “Alt-Center”—another wryly Braxtonesque gesture.

The collective cohesion of this quintet – completed by vocalist Laila Smith, saxophonist Raef Sengupta, and bassist Zachary Lavine – extends to its vivacious interpretations of six Braxton compositions from the early ’70s. Whether navigating the rarefied chamber-music decorum of “23E” and “23H,” the mercurial gestures of “6I,” or the infectious swagger and glide of “40B,” Tropos plays with assurance, charisma, and infectious enthusiasm.

New This Week

Erik Hall
Photograph courtesy Western Vinyl

Lucian Ban/John Surman/Mat Maneri - Transylvanian Folk Songs - The Bela Bartók Field Recordings (Sunnyside)

Cenk Ergün & Friends - Amore Vieni for Isolated Ensemble (self-released)

David Garland - The Red Wing Room (self-released)

iT Boy - The Nail House (New Amsterdam)

Motion Sickness of Time Travel - Superposition Wash (self-released)

William Parker - Trencadís (Centering)

Patchwork - Patchwork - compositions by Erin Rogers, Eric Wubbels, Dan Tramte, Osnat Netzer, and Hong-Da Chin (New Focus)

Steve Reich - Music for 18 Musicians - Erik Hall (Western Vinyl)

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith - The Mosaic of Transformation (Ghostly International)

Standing on the Corner - Angel (self-released)

Coming Soon

(☆ - newly listed this week)

May 22

T.J. Borden & Luke Martin - if you need to stand up or move about (Marginal Frequency)

Endangered Quartet - Heart (New Focus)

Michael Hersch - I hope we get a chance to visit soon - Ah Young Hong, Kiera Duffy, musicians of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra/Tito Muñoz (New Focus)

Matthew Shipp - The Piano Equation (Tao Forms)

June 5

Anthony Braxton/Eugene Chadbourne - Duo (Improv) 2017 (New Braxton House)

Bruce Brubaker & Max Cooper - Glassforms (InFiné)

Danny Clay - Ocean Park (laaps)

Alex Keller and Sean O’Neill - Ando (Loma Editions)

scapegoat - Threshing/Plastic - compositions by Mauricio Pauly and Santiago Díez-Fischer (New Focus)

Sara Serpa - Recognition (Biophilia)

June 12

Whit Dickey Trio - Expanding Light (Tao Forms)

Aaron Jay Kernis - Color Wheel; Symphony No. 4 “Chromelodeon” - Nashville Symphony/Giancarlo Guerrero (Naxos)

Cory Smythe - Accelerate Every Voice (Pyroclastic)

June 19

Dave Bryant with Charnett Moffett and Gregg Bendian - Night Visitors (self-released)

June 26

David Lang - prisoner of the state - Julie Mathevet, Alan Oke, Jarrett Ott, Eric Owens, New York Philharmonic/Jaap van Zweden (Decca Gold)

July 3

Qasim Naqvi - Beta (Erased Tapes)

August 14

William Parker - Migration of Silence Into and Out of The Tone World (Centering)