September 2007


Anthony Braxton — Diamond Curtain Wall Trio
at the Guelph Jazz Festival
September 9, 2007 Guelph Youth Music Centre Guelph
Visionary Music
by David Fujino with photos by Roger Humbert

part 1

On the stage an hourglass sits.

Laptop emissions blend with the outpourings of Anthony Braxton (reeds), Mary Halvorson (hollow body electric guitar), Taylor Ho Bynum (brasswinds), and guest saxophonist, Kyle Brenders.

But listen — this is no music recital.

We're immersed in a world of life experience, and the trio's previously cryptic name, Diamond Curtain Wall Trio, now makes obvious sense as the stage shimmers — literally — with their richly continuous curtain of living sound.

On his abundance of horns (trumpet, fluegelhorn, cornet, slide trombone, piccolo trumpet, conch shells, valved bugle, and more) brasswind member Bynum described, in multiple and ever-rising arcs, both the inside details and the outside limit of the group's evolving sonic curtain. And when he'd alternately play hat-muted, then open, Bynum immediately widened the impact of his vocalized and intensely moving, open-hearted sounds.

Anthony Braxton

For his part, Braxton, ever the equal opportunity 'leader', played with exuberance on his family of saxophones and occasionally walked upstage to punch in new electric plinks! and plonks! and ambient swirls from the laptops.

But it was just amazing how much inner terrain Braxton covered; in one instance, he worked free from a dense harmonic-sounding sequence to engage in duet with the guitar and then suddenly appear in a clearing, all alone on alto, screaming away inside a fluttering line. Yes.

This was music as pure experience — pure sensate experience — pouring off that stage. There were many bright beads of light. I was crying.

part 2

This is music where the real is imagined.

This music is really about life experience and not the nuts-and-bolts of music. Really.

If I must talk about it, I'd have to say the alto and flugelhorn sparred in wave forms inside a sound curtain of pure experience.

I'd also have to say the fast-stuttering alto line fluttered and was then released in Brenders' high tenor spilling and Bynum's skreeking, as Braxton then entered with his moody soprano voodoo, and hoodoo.

But I've learned that writing and talking about Braxton's music is an understandable and all-too-human attempt to crudely impose order and make sense out of what is after all pure phenomena.

Instead I can say that guitarist Mary Halverson's broad, chunky, and stroked dissonance, please note, was played on low volume. She invigorated the sound curtain with well-placed, delicate clusters, and, when she wasn't detuning her guitar, kept laying down structure throughout the developing 75 minutes.

And this is interesting, and heart-warming.
A woman in the audience said to my colleague that she wasn't a musician, but "it was good to see a woman in the group, especially a group like this. You don't really see many women in this music, anyway."

Diamond Curtain Wall Trio
Anthony Braxton — reeds
Mary Halvorson — hollow body electric guitar
Taylor Ho Bynum — brass

Kyle Brenders — reeds

We welcome your comments and feedback
David Fujino
• • • • • •
Roger Humbert
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