Monday, March 27, 2006

a tale of two stories in one

Granted, Steve Smith and Ben Ratliff didn't attend the same nights of Anthony Braxton's Iridium run. Still, are they talking about the same music? Apart from the line "the contrabass clarinet, which resembles a giant paper clip," Ratliff seems totally dispirited by the eternity embodied in a steady stream of eighth notes. Contrast that with Smith's extensive reports from three different nights, where you get the impression of a music that's lively, thrilling and unpredictable. Maybe it's that Smith is a Braxton devotee who easily looks past the 8th-note thing to the variations on top and that Ratliff is much less of a fan and largely stopped at that aspect. Or maybe the set Ratliff saw was radically different from the ones Smith saw. Sure, music exists solely in the individual ear, but the difference, not only of enjoyment, which is to be expected, but especially of "description," is stunning.