The standard is a quintessential concept in jazz. A canonical composition reinterpreted and disassembled by both new players and established elders, they are works that cement their place in tradition through virtue of their lasting capacity to be transformed yet maintain the essence of their identity.
Defined like this, saxophonist and composer Anthony Braxton is something of a standard himself. With more than 350 works to his name, he has been heralded as a luminary of free jazz, bearing influences such as John Coltrane and Eric Dolphy, as well as a radical composer of opera and orchestral pieces in the lineage of experimentalists such as Karlheinz Stockhausen. His music often encapsulates what might be seen as “difficult” in jazz – rattling bursts of energy, woozy and unpredictable harmony, outright guttural noise – yet he always keeps a guiding hand on melody, maintaining his ineffable sonic identity.
Read the review in the Guardian.
[This piece was published on 21/01/20]