Anthony Braxton, the innovative musician and composer whose works have run the gamut from solo alto sax to the orchestral "For Four Symphonies" (larger in instrumentation than most Wagnerian operas and longer than any Mahler symphony) will inaugurate a new music series at the Washington Project for the Arts this afternoon at 3 and 4:30. He will be joined by trombonist George Lewis, like Braxton an alumnus of the fabled Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians.
Braxton is a warm but little understood figure even in the avant-garde circles of jazz and classical music. "I think I have violated the tenet structure of too many of the schools or movements," he says. "I've never fitted in comfortably at any of the slots because the spectrum of what I've been looking at and what I've wanted to move towards transcends any one context." Braxton remembers the negative reaction to his "For Alto," a two-record set of unaccompanied saxophone. "That was looked at as a violation of the music. I had been listening to Fats Waller, Arnold Scho enberg and Karlheinz Stockhausen: It was a logical step to do since I was in that period formulating my own pedagogia. In the context of so-called jazz, it was a very radical departure."
Likewise Braxton's early use of unusual instrumental combinations--five tubas or four saxophones. "When I did it everybody looked at it as 'The Europeanization of Braxton.' Now the sax quartet is very much in vogue with Rova and the World Saxophone Quartet." Braxton, who recently finished a trilogy of books on creativity and its relation to world, western and trans-African culture and music, will be leading the D.C. Workshop Orchestra this fall. There will be a preliminary workshop-audition at 7 p.m. at d.c. space after his WPA performance. Braxton will be looking for reading musicians as well as improvisers.