September 2007


Anthony Braxton and The AIMToronto Orchestra
at the Guelph Jazz Festival
September 7, 2007 River Run Center Guelph
"An orchestra is a nice family." (Anthony Braxton)
by David Fujino with photos by Roger Humbert

Anthony Braxton appeared this evening as a conductor of his own music.

His orchestra was the Toronto-based AIM orchestra staffed by 18 of the more "intuitive players" from Toronto's free improvising scene.

They'd rehearsed in Toronto the night before, and word out was that some of the musicians had "never seen so much notation!"

Now, while he mostly limited himself to conducting his highly attentive musicians, Professor Braxton also whipped out his soprano saxophone (perhaps 6 times this evening?) and added bright, bursting cycles to the orchestra's slow assembling atmospheres.

Braxton's hands were a link.

Often his hands made a triangle in front of the orchestra. Some of the musicians seemed to respond.

Some of the musicians mutely behaved like they still didn't know how they fit in.

And some of the musicians like pianist Tanya Gill and bass clarinetist Ronda Rindone also started conducting and used hand signals.

Accordingly, this evening's assembly had the (anxious) quality of a family gathering where each member still has to negotiate with the host in order to take a seat and have their say.

But there were no belligerent sounds this evening. In fact, it was a prime example of how Braxton brings people together to play music. They have free agency and they have to make choices.

He seemed preoccupied with sound mass, strands of sound, and complete silence; and how to string all this together?

Such an approach to conducting required considerable patience from both Braxton and the audience.

But once again, Anthony Braxton taught us something — music is much more than themes and sensuous sound.

Music is so often a metaphor, like the inverted hourglass that sits on the stage, its measured time pouring through the growing time of the music.

Anthony Braxton conducting
The AIMToronto Orchestra
Christine Duncan — voice
Rob Piilonen, Ronda Rindone, Kyle Brenders, Evan Shaw, Colin Fisher — woodwinds
Nicole Rampersaud — trumpet
Scott Thomson — trombone
Ken Aldcroft, Justin Haynes — guitar
Parmela Attariwala — violin
Tilman Lewis — cello
Rob Clutton, Victor Bateman — bass
Tania Gill — piano
Nick Fraser, Joe Sorbara, Brandon Valdivia — percussion
We welcome your comments and feedback
David Fujino
• • • • • •
Roger Humbert
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The Live Music Report

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