Anthony Braxton inspires some listeners to heights of aesthetic ecstasy and utterly mystifies others. As a mutlisaxophonist and multiclarinetist, he ranges from exhilarating reinvestigations of bop repertoire to unaccompanied, distant abstraction. He's also a composer--of songs for jazz combos, of huge symphonic works, of extended, flowing, lyrical pieces, and of some of the most thorny amalgams of orchestration and controlled improvisation ever conceived. He once called his music "post-Ayler, post-Webern," and if that's wide territory, it's still the narrowest categorization of his work possible; moreover, there's nothing merely fashionable about his range of adventures--they're all distinctive creations of a bold, immensely skillful, iconoclastic artist. Next week is a sort of Anthony Braxton Week in his old hometown: he'll be coming here to teach his latest compositions to a 20-piece big band of Chicago musicians, some of them students and some old pros. He'll guide them through his scores in three days of open rehearsals and lecture on his music next Thursday. But the climax will be his big-band concert, which will surely be among the major jazz events here in recent years. Braxton's residency, one of the largest Chicago events ever honoring a single jazz artist, is sponsored by the Jazz Institute of Chicago and the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest National Jazz Network. Public rehearsals, 10 AM-5 PM, Wednesday through next Friday, May 29, Southend Musicworks, 1313 S. Wabash; lecture, 7:30 PM Thursday, Southend Musicworks; concert, 8 PM, next Friday, May 29, Getz Theater, 72 E. 11th St.; 427-1676.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Lauren Deutsch.