Avant-garde saxophonist with striking rhythmic and timbral control, as well as an intriguing nonscalar technique has also played various clarinets, flute, electronic instruments, percussion, acordion, and the harmonica.
Born in Chicago on June 4, 1945, Braxton studied at the Chicago School of Music and at Roosevelt University. At Wilson Junior College, he met Roscoe Mitchell and Jack DeJohnette. After a stint in the army, Braxton joined the AACM.
After moving to Paris with the Anthony Braxton Trio (which evolved into the Creative Construction Company), he returned to the US, where he stayed at Ornette Coleman's house, gave up music, and worked as a chess hustler in the city's Washington Square Park. In 1970, he and Chick Corea studied scores by Stockhausen, Boulez, Xenakis and Schoenberg together, and Braxton joined Corea's Circle. In 1972, he made his bandleader debut (leading duos, trios, and quintets) and played solo at Carnegie Hall.
In the early 1970s, he worked with the Italian Musica Elettronica Viva, which performed contemporary classical and improvised music. In 1974, he signed a recording contract with Arista Records.
One of the first black abstract musicians to acknowledge a debt to contemporary European art music, Braxton is known as much as a composer as an improviser. The output ranges from solo pieces to For Four Orchestras, a work work that has been described as "a colossal work, longer than any of Gustav Mahler's symphonies and larger in instrumentation than most of Richard Wagner's operas."
His 1968 solo alto saxophone double LP For Alto (finally released in 1971) remains a jazz landmark, for its encouragement of solo instrumental recordings. Other important recordings include Three Compositions of New Jazz (1968, Delmark), his 1970s releases on Arista, Composition No. 96 (1981; Leo), Quartet (London) 1985; Quartet (Birmingham) 1985; Quartet (Coventry) 1985 (all on Leo), Seven Compositions (Trio) 1989 (hat Art), Duo (London) 1993 & Trio (London), both on Leo.
Got a correction? Click
Pages linking to this one include: