|Dahinden (tenor & alto trombones), Anthony Braxton (saxophones), Joe Fonda (bass), Art Fuller (drums). "On disc, Dahinden is well known for his Hat Art recordings devoted to Cage and Wolff. This disc is the first release of his own compositions and interpretations of John Coltrane's 'Naima' and Anthony Braxton's 'Composition 136'.
Notes by Kyle Gann.
Odd to see Mode--predominantly a "contemporary classical" label--venturing into free jazz, until you remember that Roland Dahinden has recorded Cage, Wolff and Lucier, and that his sparring partner here, Anthony Braxton, has always sought to straddle the turbulent gulf between improvisation and composition. "Free Lines, part one" finds the two horns working their way--more or less together--through a melodic minefield of angular chromaticism, with drummer Art Fuller tagging along for company. Eventually things take off, Dahinden unleashing a spectacular upper register display, Braxton providing some trademark rubbery flurries, Fuller's elastic brushwork recalling an earlier Braxton drummer, Barry Altschul on the classic 70s Circle albums. The half-sung multiphonic plunger chords Albert Mangelsdorff first amazed us with twenty years ago are now standard modern trombone technique, and Dahinden has mastered them--check out his quietly intense cover of Coltrane's "Naima."
Braxton lays out on his own "Composition 136" (hardly a user-friendly title, but at least he's abandoned those crazy diagrams), bassist Joe Fonda joining Fuller to make up a dynamite trio unit. "Free Lines, part two" works along the same lines as part one, with melodic lines of a more sustained nature (as result the music feels more pastoral, melancholic); strangely, the edgy dissonances somehow remind me of the harmonic language of Steve Coleman, though Braxton's fluffy attack and grainy sustain are light years away from M Base's austere precision. Once more, things pick up with some wicked mute work from Dahinden--on the strength of this album I'd say he was, along with Frenchman Yves Robert, one of the hottest trombonists around right now. Let's hope the avant garde Mode subscribers use this fine album to springboard into the world of free, and, in the other direction, Braxton fans will see fit to check out other excellent releases on the label.
---Dan Warburton, Paris Transatlantic Review, November 2000