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Jazz notes: News from Anthony Braxton, Susan Clynes, Machine Mass and more

Revered composer and recording artist Anthony Braxton will be turning 69-years-old June 4 but he’s celebrating all year long with a series of special performances and CD box set releases. First up is the Tri-Centric Music Festival taking place in New York City April 10-19. The festival will feature multiple appearances by Braxton as he performs his “Composition No. 46,” a piece for chamber ensemble, “Composition No. 146,” a piece for flutes, tuba and percussion, “Diamond Curtain Wall Nonet” and his brand new four-act opera, “Trillium J (The Non-Unconfessionables)” where he’ll lead a 36-piece orchestra. For the latter, fans can choose to experience the lengthy work two acts at a time on separate days or all in one day, split between a matinee and an evening performance.

Anthony Braxton promo shot
Photo by Carolyn Wachnicki

Braxton will release three CD box sets this year, all featuring new music and all dropping in June adjacent to his birthday. They are: “Trio (New Haven) 2013” (4-CD set), “12 Duets (DCWM) 2012” (12-CD set) and “3 Compositions (EEMHM) 2011” (3-CD set).

For more information on Braxton’s April performances and upcoming CD releases, visit the Tri-Centric Foundation website.

NEW AND NOTABLE – (OUT NOW)

SUSAN CLYNES “Life Is…” (Moon June Records) – Fans of Tori Amos will find a kindred spirit in singer/pianist Clynes, especially on tunes like the piano pounder “A Good Man” and the title track. The Belgian artist decided to use live material for “Life Is…” but you would never know it; there’s no crowd noise or stage patter and the performance is note-perfect. Much of the offering is just Clynes and her piano but a cellist accompanies on a few tracks and a rhythm section on a couple of others.

MACHINE MASS featuring DAVE LIEBMAN “Inti” (Moon June Records) – Drummer Tony Bianco and guitarist Michel Delville have impressive credentials of their own but Bianco recently asked his longtime collaborator Dave Liebman to join the band and now Machine Mass is, well, an unstoppable machine. Having played sax with the great Miles Davis, Liebman here brings gravitas to this set of improvisational numbers, largely written by Bianco and Delville. The one cover on “Inti” is the Joe Zawinul-penned Miles Davis number, “In a Silent Way.”

ZARA McFARLANE “If You Knew Her” (Brownswood Recordings) – If you knew her? Well here’s a start. McFarlane is based in London, this is her sophomore album, she writes her own material, and her singing has been knocking the socks off of fans and critics. Those hosiery-less folks are all raving about McFarlane’s clarity of voice and her ability to sing with childlike innocence just as easily as she does with womanly assertiveness. Vinyl fans, this one is available on wax.

PETE ROBBINS “Pyramid” (Hate Laugh Music) – Sax man Robbins pays tribute here to some of the classic rock and pop tunes that he loved as a youngster. The set of covers includes everything from Nirvana’s “Lithium” to Stevie Wonder’s “Too High” and from “Wichita Lineman” to “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” This is definitely jazz though and Robbins’ band includes accomplished players like pianist Vijay Iyer, double-bassist Eivind Opsvik and Tyshawn Sorey.

COMING SOON

VIJAY IYER “Mutations” (ECM) – March 4

JOEL HARRISON & ANUPAM SHOBHAKAR MULTIPLICITY “Leave the Door Open” (Whirlwind) – March 11

SCOTT FEINER and PANDEIRO JAZZ “A View From Below” (Self released) – March 25

RACHEL ECKROTH “Let Go” (Virgo Sun Records) – April 15