I am not surprised at how good this is. Thumbscrew are terrific and Anthony Braxton's music is always interesting and moving in different directions. I can not stop listening to this. The recording itself is so well done. It is a deep sound to crawl inside.
Favorite track: Composition No. 35.
GREAT MUSIC!!! I still dislike the name "Thumbscrew." In a nation with a history of torture, state-sponsored torture, the policeman torturing George Floyd while he murdered him, torture is an accepted fact of life. How about "Heartscrew" instead? Taking pain into the heart, recognizing it, honoring it. I guess it could refer to the joy of open-hearted sex as opposed to mere pornography which has also become standard in the media.
Great release of a unique trio's realization of a visionary's work. A new era of Thumbscrew with the addition of Tomas' vibe contributions. It goes without saying (but, I will...) the all round exceptional playing by all. Favorite track: Composition No. 79.
"Probably no one better qualified to make a Braxton tribute than these guys." – S. Victor Aaron / Something Else Reviews
Celebrating Anthony Braxton on his 75th birthday, THUMBSCREW digs into the Tricentric Archives, focusing on previously unrecorded pieces by the legendary composer, multi-wind master and bandleader. The all-star collective trio releases its fifth album for Cuneiform, The Anthony Braxton Project. For fans familiar with Braxton’s music the project offers a whole new window into his genius for designing protean musical situations pregnant with possibilities. Those less acquainted with his work might find themselves enthralled and amazed by the sheer diversity of rhythmic and melodic material explored by Thumbscrew.
Invited to explore the Tri-Centric Foundation’s voluminous Braxton archives in New Haven, Connecticut as part of the Braxton75 celebration, the trio spent a long afternoon looking for rarely played pieces that could fit their instrumental palette. “The idea was for us to choose compositions of Anthony’s, mostly early compositions, which hadn’t been previously recorded (or, in a couple cases, recorded only once or twice),” says Halvorson. “We chose pieces that captured our imagination and that we thought would work well for the instrumentation of guitar, bass, and drums or vibraphone. Our choices included graphic scores, complex notated pieces, and everything in between.”
Like with several previous Thumbscrew albums, the triumvirate used an extended, four-week residency at City of Asylum in Pittsburgh to prepare for the recording. Working on the music daily (while also honing a new book of original Thumbscrew compositions), they developed arrangements of varying detail based on the scores and the corresponding catalogue notes for each composition. While aiming to understand and execute Braxton’s intention with each piece, the nature of his music required them to shape the material anew. “We have a shared language in terms of how we improvise, but the composition very much guides and informs our improvisations, so having music from a new composer puts us in a different frame of mind and adds another layer to what we do as a trio,” Fujiwara says.
All three of the members of Thumbscrew have had significant performing and / or study opportunities with Braxton, so they all can approach this music as ‘insiders’.
released July 24, 2020
Tomas Fujiwara - Drums and Vibraphone
Mary Halvorson - Guitar
Michael Formanek - Double Bass
All compositions by Anthony Braxton.
Recorded September 8–11, 2019 by Nate Campisi at Mr. Smalls Studio, Pittsburgh, PA.
Mixed January & February 2020 by Jake K. Leckie, Los Angeles, CA.
Mastered March 2020 by Nick Lloyd at Firehouse 12, New Haven, CT.