Beautifully immersive sound experience. Not familiar enough with the mechanics of ZIM and the liner notes are pretty oblique about those but ample on the poetics and the humor (yes!) of this music. A high water mark for Braxton's music.
Early in his career, Anthony Braxton established a foundational taxonomy of musical concepts and gestural categories for improvisers and performers to use in the interpretation of his music - what Braxton calls Language Music. You can hear his first rigorous exploration of many of these on his celebrated 1969 record For Alto. There are only twelve basic varieties to his Language Music: long sound, accented long sound, trills, staccato formings, intervallic formings, and so on. An association with a particular variety of one of the Language Musics is a defining aspect of any of his individual works.
Braxton has also developed a series of compositional modalities: different ways of imagining and structuring how a musician, or musicians, may participate in a given piece. Since 1995, he has been primarily concerned with his Holistic Modeling Musics. Each is associated with one of the Language Musics: Ghost Trance Music (long sound), Falling River Music (accented long sounds), Diamond Curtain Wall Music (trills or ornamentation), Echo Echo Mirror House Music (multiphonics), and Pine Top Aerial Music (short attacks).
Firehouse 12 Records is pleased to release the latest iteration of Braxton's musical system, called ZIM Music, which is derived from language number 11: gradient logics. Gradient logics pertain to aspects of music that continually change, faster and faster, slower and slower, brighter and brighter, darker and darker. 12 Comp (ZIM) 2017 documents 12 performances over the course of two years, showcasing the development of ZIM music as the compositions and ensemble adapted to new musical situations.
The very first ZIM Music composition was in fact presented to the quartet with Nels Cline, Greg Saunier, and Taylor Ho Bynum documented on Quartet (New Haven) 2014. During that session it was used only sparingly, and later became the first of four ZIM compositions (398 - 401) to be recorded during a residency at the University of Alabama in the summer of 2015.
While the first four ZIM compositions were short, linear, single-lined and mostly graphic, Composition No. 402 was scored for a quintet of reeds, brass, tuba, and two harps. Combining traditionally notated sections with sections of individual and tutti graphic notation, Composition No. 402 was premiered in Poland in November 2015, and appears on this Blu-ray as the opening track, recorded live at Wake Forest University in March 2017. At the Big Ears Festival in 2016, Braxton debuted Composition Nos. 403 & 404 which are primarily non-linear graphic compositions.
After the Wake Forest performance of Composition No. 402, the recordings in this set move through Composition Nos. 408 through 420. Recorded in a variety of contexts, these compositions maintain the gradient logics of dynamic and timbre change, but infuse gradients into the notated material itself. He dubs this computer-aided notation "extraction notation": the musicians are given technically impossible music and are expected to "extract" a performance from the notation as part of their improvisational process. This resulting transformation, from notated to performed is in itself a gradient process.
The stellar core ensemble of Taylor Ho Bynum, Dan Peck, Jacquline Kerrod, and Shelley Burgon is augmented and altered with roster of star emerging musicians, including Tomeka Reid, Adam Matlock, Jean Cook, Stephanie Richards, Ingrid Laubrock, Brandee Younger, and Miriam Overlach.
12 COMP (ZIM) 2017 is available as a single disc Blu-ray, as well as high-resolution digital files through Firehouse 12 Records' Bandcamp page and the usual streaming and download outlets. "For a project of this scope, more than 11 hours or music, Blu-ray was the obvious release format for us. To make each performance available in the native high-sample rate and also to issue immersive surround mixes of the incredible soundscapes generated by this ensemble, there was really no other option" says Firehouse 12 Records co-founder and chief engineer Nick Lloyd. "We were lucky to be able not only to record a number of the pieces on this release at Firehouse 12, but also to make location recordings in North Carolina and Montreal of ZIM in its natural habitat - in front of a live audience!!"
released June 4, 2021
Anthony Braxton - reeds, compositions
Taylor Ho Bynum - brass
Dan Peck - tuba
Jacquline Kerrod - harp
Shelley Burgon - harp
Tomeka Reid - cello
Adam Matlock - accordion, aerophones
Jean Cook - violin
Stephanie Richards - trumpet
Ingrid Laubrock - saxophones
Brandee Younger - harp
Miriam Overlach - harp
Produced by Anthony Braxton
Co-produced by Taylor Ho Bynum, Nick Lloyd, and Carl Testa
Recorded by Nick Lloyd, Greg DiCrosta, Shaun Crook, and James Dunn
Mixed and Mastered by Nick Lloyd
Firehouse 12 Records is the label arm of Firehouse 12, an award-winning bar, recording studio, and unusually intimate music
venue located in New Haven, CT. Co-founded in 2007 by Firehouse 12′s chief engineer Nick Lloyd and cornetist/composer Taylor Ho Bynum, Firehouse 12 Records was created to ambitiously document the creative ethos of some of improvised music's most innovative practitioners....more