21 May 2008

Anthony Braxton Quartet, Live at the Place, Eugene Oregon, March 30th 1978

The photo is of Braxton in February 1988 in concert in Corvallis, Oregon.

Anthony Braxton Quartet, Live at the Place, Eugene Oregon, March 30th 1978
Anthony Braxton Clarinet, Soprano and Alto Saxophone
Ray Anderson Trombone
Brian Smith bass
Thurman Barker Drums

Set One: two unknown tracks (possibly areas 40 and 69) 63:47
Set Two: two unknown tracks (possibly areas 40, 69 and others) 77:29

You know this is going to mean big files to dl.

The sound is A- to B+

This is another interesting musical experience that I'm sharing on behalf of Dale. It comes with a story of mishap about Dale's meeting with Braxton. He took a little encouragement to share this, but I always enjoy these human-scale stories, and Dale says the embarrassment has been blunted by time.


It was approximately a year or so before the '89 Eugene big band performances and Braxton was in Eugene to conduct some seminars and to do some solo performances where he was planning to perform improvisations based on Monk compositions. There was to be a seminar and a concert here in Eugene Oregon (in the University of Oregon Music School) and the same thing at the Oregon State Music school in Corvallis Oregon. I was assigned the pleasurable task of driving Braxton around town - shuttling him between the motel and the schools etc...

The weather was TERRIBLE. We’d had freezing rain shortly after he arrived; then the temperatures dropped and it started snowing. It was one of those driven, cold snow storms where the air was full of snow being whipped up from the ground. The ice looked as though it had been scrubbed clean and tinted a bleak gray by the thick sky. The plan was for me to take him by the music school (for some introductions, a tour of the facilities and whatever). Then maybe get a bite to eat afterward depending on what the music department folks had in mind. So I showed up at the motel and Braxton was waiting outside wearing his cardigan sweater - no coat. And he was freezing but he wanted me to wait so he could run back up to his room to grab his alto. He did that and we drove over to the U of O. “Luckily” for us we found parking just a block from music school. We left the car, which was along the street in one of those university residential areas, and skated our way over to the music center. Things went really well and we headed back to the car after only about a half hour.

When we got back to the car the curbside door was ajar and the saxophone was GONE! I was freaked out! Evidently the car had not been locked. We searched the car in vain and then paced up and down the sidewalk hoping to spot the thief. Then it occurred to us that MAYBE he hadn’t actually grabbed the instrument back at the motel. That it was still in the room. That we had IMAGINED all that. Well, it wasn’t in the room!

At this point I wanted Anthony to call the police. NO! NO?! He was ADAMANT! NO police!!

Were the performances to be cancelled? What next? I called up some friends to see if we could borrow an instrument. Nothing! Then I called one of the music stores in town, told them the situation and they said they had a beautiful, like new, Selmer Mark 6 on hand that they would be willing to rent. I mean, I was really feeling responsible at this point and would have footed the bill if necessary even though I couldn’t afford it. So we drove over and went in.

One of the sales clerks had “heard” of Braxton but wasn’t familiar with his music. But since he was somebody the U of O had scheduled the sales people were interested and seemed receptive. Braxton indicated that he needed to shake the instrument down to see if would be useable - you know, check the pads etc. and stock up on a bunch of reeds. So the people at the store laid things out, Anthony wet the reeds, and the test began. First a long note. He removed the reed, sucked on it for a minute or so more, slipped it back in. Another long note. Then he EXPLODED into a series of scales swooping up and down at incredible speeds. Occasionally he paused to ‘trill’ and checkout some fingerings. He eventually threw in little Monk at an incredible tempo to make sure he could pull it off. Finally, after about five or so minutes, Anthony stopped and smiled. His first since the theft of his instrument and I was close to smiling myself. Still stunned BUT I was breathing again.

In the meantime all the sales staff, all the patrons and the store owner had realized a phenomenal musician was on the premises. A small group had gathered around to check out who had demonstrated such brilliant technical wizardry. It wasn’t the same as a concert but it was dazzling. The owner piped up “Uh . . we’ll loan it to you for nothing and hopefully, if you feel it’s appropriate, you’ll mention us. AND we’ll give you a really good price on it if you like the way it sounds and plays.” Anthony tested the instrument a little longer and finally decided it would work - that he would go ahead with the concerts.

We left with the instrument. I drove Anthony back to the motel, he picked up a few things and we went over to my house so he could do more “warming up.” He couldn’t practice at the motel and he felt he had to put in a couple hours just so he’d know how to deal with the idiosyncracies of that particular horn.

The evening concert was basically a solo exploration of the quartet material found on the Black Saint “Six Monk’s Compositions (1987).” I don’t really remember much about Braxton’s playing that evening because I was preoccupied with what had happened earlier in the day. I just kept replaying that moment when we got back to the car and discovered the horn missing. And it didn’t help that Anthony was not particularly pleased about his playing and was finally openly admitting how very distressed he was about the loss of his instrument, a Selmer Mark 7. But we’d muddled through the day, Braxton had done his solo concert, and we’d averted a total disaster. It could have been worse – or could it?

We had planned to drive up to Corvallis after the concert and get Anthony into his new lodgings, a Bed & Breakfast near the OSU campus. It’s only 50 miles but the temperature had dropped and NOW there was a howling blizzard going on. This is REALLY rare in Oregon. Winters are rainy NOT blizzardy. We decided to drive up anyway despite the treacherous road conditions. I don’t remember how much snow we got but it was hard to see and the roads were slick. What normally takes an hour to drive took three. But we made it.

The plan was for me to drive back that evening but it was 2:30 A.M. and the roads had become almost impassable so I decided to stay in Corvallis over night. Fortunately they had an additional room at the B & B. In fact we were the only two roomers that night. Winter time is not when people vacation in Corvallis. And nobody else would have been crazy enough to try driving.

The next morning I woke up to the sound of Braxton practicing. I only wish I could have recorded some of it. I mean it was flat amazing. I think he’d figured out the Mark 6 and was more focused than he had been on the previous evening. A great instrumentalist can even make arpeggios sound musical. After breakfast I drove Anthony up to the University and took off for Eugene. The Sun was out and the roads had been somewhat cleared.

The next evening I drove back to Corvallis with my wife Margaret. This time I was able to listen to the music and it was a knockout performance. Braxton WAS on! His rendition of “Brilliant Corners” was over 20 minutes and spectacular from beginning to end. Only a small crowd attended but we had the good fortune of catching Braxton at his best. I also got some great photos.

Braxton returned the horn to me that evening. He had decided to get another Mark 7 (if he could find one) which was what he was accustomed to playing. When I returned the horn to the store in Eugene the following morning the young man at the counter was a little surprised to see me. I guess he figured Braxton would keep it. I thought he would myself. In any case, it would be interesting to know who finally got that horn and if it is still being played. I also wonder where the thief went to sell Braxton’s “old” horn.


Wallofsound said...

Anthony Braxton Quartet, Live at the Place, Eugene Oregon, March 30th 1978

It will take four files for a high quality mp3, or eight for an audiophile flac. I'm finding the downloads are 2 mp3s for every flac, for those of you interested in these things.



Tantris said...

Thank you very much - the story is very interesting. AB also had a f-sopranino stolen before his 2002 Glasgow concert, I think.

I shall be listening to this this weekend with interest.

centrifuge said...

thanks very much to wallofsound for posting this, and to dale for the music, the photo and the great story! what a nightmare for you at the time, though... i wonder what DID happen to the sax? unless the thief happens to be reading the blog, i don't suppose we will ever know...

tantris, slight chinese whispers there - it was 2005 (but yes, before the glasgow trio concert) and it was b's rare f-alto, as played on many of the late 20th/early 21st century recordings, which was stolen. THB described the incident on his own website - the case containing the instrument turned up at the airport, neatly stripped of its contents. what's particularly nauseating about this incident (unlike the random one described by dale) is that in this case the theft was clearly to order - how would a baggage handler know what to take? no, someone knew that braxton had this rare instrument, possibly saw him play it in london in 2004 and bribed a handler to look out for it, the next time b. flew to the uk... doubtless the actual thief was well paid for his treachery, and as for the scumbag who ordered it - who knows what he did with it, but if he touched it to his mouth, i hope his lips shrivel up and fall off..!

centrifuge said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
folly for to see what said...

Hi Dale and Wall!
Dale, What a story, Murphy's law!
And what a nice alarm!
I'd like to see some artwork by you as a cover, but picture is good too, nice.
I've seen your new art, I like That "digest" collage among others, those fridge doors too… If you don't mind I'll add to my blogs, webs… list.

Thanks, thanks, thanks, this is the place!
I'll wait to your next post…
… well, first I have to download all Flacs!

See you!

centrifuge said...

first details... not actually listened properly yet of course!... each set contains more than two pieces - the divisions are for tape flips, no other reason, the taper did well to catch what he or she did though...

first set - can't identify the opener yet, or what follows next but comp. 23g begins towards the end of that first large file and is still being played at the beginning of the smaller one; it ends abruptly about 10 mins in, but i can't yet identify the piece which follows it and concludes the set.

second set opens with comp. 69m, includes comp. 40b (theme begins around 26.30, but it's cued up by barker some time before); not sure what follows that, but the set concludes with comp. 6c. the encore (which makes up about the last ten mins of the fourth file) should be easy enough to identify, but i don't think i know it..!

i look forward to hearing the whole concert, and will add any further info as it occurs to me... thanks again guys :)

Anonymous said...

Great story, Dale! Thanks. You must have been utterly mortified.

Tantris said...

centrifuge - thanks for correcting the details. Now I know why I gave up history as soon as possible.

sambeck2001 said...

Thank you, Dale, thank you, wallofsound,

I'm downloading right now.
will there be time to listen to it in the near future? i don't know.


Slothrop said...

Wow -- the hits just keep coming. I can't wait to hear more of this (underdocumented) group. And as for your story, Dale, oh, hell, I don't even know what to say. The image of AB practicing in the music store is crystal clear and unforgettable.

Thanks to all. Again.

Anonymous said...

Hi there

terrific post this one Braxton in Oregon!

hier you can download Braxton-Teitelbaum, Open Aspect'82:


ps: Lame @320, no cover.

enjoy! Kike :)

centrifuge said...

hey kike, thanks a lot for passing that along, it's another one i didn't have... again, not sure exactly when i'm gonna get the chance to listen to it, but the braxtothon will get there eventually :)

dalemcbdnl said...

Cover scans for Open Aspects is at:

Thanks kike for the digitized version.


centrifuge said...

thanks dale. i particularly like your coloured pencil drawing btw :)

one question, for anyone that already has the album - on kike's mp3 the first track runs 11.37, which is a whole minute less than the listed time in the discog (other track lengths are pretty much as listed). yet it sounds complete... is it?

dalemcbdnl said...

The 1st piece should really be 12:40. I checked the original LP and one minute of quiet Teitelbaum echo-ee electronic stuff was removed from the end of the "original." Not a great loss, perhaps, but a bit presumptuous to have taken ANYTHING from the work. Certainly I would MUCH prefer the ENTIRE performance. It's like radio announcers dubbing in their voices during or toward the end of a piece. I don't like it and I wish ALL after the fact "editors" would leave those decisions up to the end listener. Leave EVERYTHING in tact.

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad to have the digitized (though edited) version. It actually sounds very good and I hadn't even noticed the fade/cut until centrifuge (a person who pays close attention to details!) brought it up. So my thanks to kike stands but I want to register my opinion that, WITH FEW EXCEPTIONS, up-loaders should not tamper. And, in this case, I really think Braxton and Teitelbaum (who I regard as IMPORTANT artists) put out the album they wanted in 1982.


centrifuge said...

interesting... kike, any comment there? was it your rip, or someone else's..?

dale, i certainly agree with you, i can't see any justification for editing something in this way, but then i would guess it was *not* deliberate, more likely a software fault during the ripping process (does happen sometimes). or then again..?

dalemcbdnl said...

Hey kike, I hope you don't take my rather strong opinions on this matter the wrong way. For one thing, I DID realize that there was a possibility that you had not "engineered" the original rip. For another, I really did NOT know anything about the likelihood that there could be "a software fault during the ripping process (does happen sometimes)." I'm glad Centrifuge brought that possibility to my attention because I would urge a search for replacing such software if "auto-editing" was occuring with ANY frequency.

NOW, if your pinky hit the edit button ON PURPOSE I hope it (the finger) shriveled JUST A TEENY BIT (like when one has sat in the hot tub too long) so you pause to ponder the wisdom of "edit-ism."

And, even though I really meant it when I said I liked the rip, I would still eventually want to get the longer version of the first cut on "Open Aspects." But (un)seriously, since I'm not a mean person, I would wish the editing finger quickly restored to pre-editing "plumpness."


Anonymous said...

More Stories and less Braxton (or was it vice-versa?)


Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I have also a litle story:
Back at the end of the 8O's i meet Braxton somewhere in Germany or Switzerland (i don't remember any more).
He hat a very used and brooke case for his alto & since i'm a big fan of hin i wanted make hin a present and give hin a few days later a brand new Selmer (with case ofcourse).
A few days later (he was on tour) me meet again and you know what?
He say to me: listen i can't play this sax it is too new for me
keep it and give me the case.

At the end i sold the selmer (for a good price) and until now i have
Braxton's case (with a few mouthpieces) with me.

Is it something for eBay?

GBML said...

Shure is it not for ebay!
You guys here are realy insinders.
Thanks for sharing the music & the story

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this session. I had heard this one was out there, but it is finally nice to see it up on a blog. This is one of my favorite Braxton periods.


Anonymous said...

For a possible recent follow up to the stolen alto story, go to:


Anonymous said...

I must have died somewhere along the line, Braxton recordings and personal shared stories??!!! Im in heaven no doubt!

Thanks folks to all here, keep up the great work!

P.s. I particularly loved the Braxton-in-music-shop one as well, truly evocative!

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much !!

Great DL and very nice stroy !


Andrew said...

Hello -
My name is Andrew Rosenthal and I was the promoter of The Anthony Braxton's Quartet concert that evening at The Place. It certainly was incredible music. I still have a cassette tape of that concert; it still sounds great!! Kudos to my engineer, Steve Hangrebrauk and my two good friends and co-promoters, Arzinia Richardson and Sam Senoff.

If anyone knows where I can get a poster of the show, please let me know. Also, let me know if you or anyone you know attended the show. Unfortunately, there weren't too many people there.

Eugene missed another Shalam (spelled correctly)Production. We also brought to town The Art Ensemble of Chicago, Gary Burton, Woody Shaw (at The Place also), Carlos Montoya, and R. Buckminster Fuller.

Thanks & Peace,

Andrew (Andy) Rosenthal

michel said...

the story is very interesting ,thanks.
Please someone know the mouthpiece used by braxton and if possible tip opening .(I have not found any information ) I think to Meyer Metal ?