Anthony Braxton – Eugene (1989)

Eugene (1989)

Anthony Braxton with the Northwest Creative OrchestraEugene (1989) Black Saint 120137-2 (1991)

A good one, though somehow falling just shy of being one to recommend without qualification.  Braxton, himself, plays exceptionally.  He sounds particularly enthusiastic in his solos.  The synthesizer, which is surprisingly reminiscent of late period Sun Ra (in a good way), is nonetheless as dated as a silver lamé jumpsuit from a 1960s sci-fi movie.  This live recording is also a merely adequate document of the performance at times, without the richness that surely must have been felt in-person at the performance.  Still, when this music gets going it is really fresh.  The use of electric guitar to produce crunchy yet sinuous blocks of sound anticipates Mary Halvorson‘s work with Braxton more than a decade later, though the instrument has a relatively minor role here.  The best parts of the album are those reinterpreting big band jazz.  Even the Braxton novice will catch on to this quickly.