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June 12, 2010



I have to say I saw a Braxton quartet live and it was one of the formative experiences of my jazz life. Realizing that PERFORMANCE and INTERACTION was what jazz was about.


What is music all about anyway? Is all that copyist work really necessary to impart the proper emotion the music is supposed to generate? Would all those dots-and-lines on music staff impart better emotion than just free-improv, or a wordy description of what the composer envisions (a la "the sound a rainbow-colored wall would make, meandering over a jagged, sometimes rolling, sometimes broken landscape, every band of color remaining in harmonic step with the others")? What are those Paul Klee-esque diagrams of Braxton supposed to impart? I get it though, it's all about apprenticeship. Few of us are born artists, we have to work at it. Charlie Parker practiced for 7 hours a day for years, the same for a lot of musicians of all stripes. You seem bitter-- did all that copyist work help you in your art?


I'm not bitter, just a bit on the sarcastic side. Braxton was a great teacher and he is a warm, funny, brilliant guy in person. I just don't know if I'd want him for a boss again.


Great writing, Tom! I think your phrase "joyously crazed excitement" captures the reason so many of us have been a part of Braxton's creative universe--his ability to get people to keep at the impossible until it materializes in some until-then unpredicted fashion. Thanks for your honest and thoroughly enjoyable account of it all for those of us who weren't there.


Thanks, Randy.

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