Never before and never again did composer and multiinstrumentalist Anthony Braxton have such a high profile as in the mid-1970s when he was under contract with Arista. One could say that Braxton’s music was much more accessible than it is now, but of course this is only partly true. As you might know his time with Arista came to an end after the release of Braxton’s “For Four Orchestras” in a 4LP Box (Allmusic website gives it 1 1/2 stars today).
What people went for at the time were Braxton’s quartets with which he toured also through Europe at the time. This 2LP (and CD):
documents two concerts. The first is from July 20, 1975 when the Braxton Quartet with trumpeter Kenny Wheeler, bassist Dave Holland and drummer Barry Altschul played at the Jazz Festival Montreux. The other one is from November 4, 1976, when trombonist George Lewis had replaced Kenny Wheeler.
Michael Cuscuna in his original liner notes writes about the two concerts:
Ironically, the fourth tune of each performance was eliminated from possible release by technical difficulties, and that missing piece in both concerts was the stop time composition that first appeared on “Five Compositions, 1975.”
The stop time composition Cuscuna is talking about is 23G, which is inded on this album:
But at least in Montreux the quartet played yet another piece that did not find it’s way onto the “Montreux/Berlin” album (also from the “Five Pieces, 1975” album): the fast Bebop abstraction Composition 40M.
And that is where an old VHS cassette from the collection of my friend, the late Otto Flückiger comes up and contains just that performance:
As you can see from the band preparing to leave the stage at the end that this must have been the last track (or the encore – if there was one). Personally I enjoy watching drummer Barry Altschul here: he looks like playing this music is a lot of fun.