Some extremely rare footage of Anthony Braxton, Sam Rivers, Dave Holland, and Barry Altschul performing at the annual jazz festival in Antibes, France in 1974 recently popped up on YouTube. This is the same band heard on Holland’s album Conference of the Birds, recently reissued on vinyl by ECM. (David Menestres reviewed it for BA last year.) The performance is amazing, for so many reasons. The way Holland and Altschul set up a flickering kind of free swing that feels both twitchy and utterly controlled. The way Braxton transitions from clarinet solo to a duo with Rivers (on flute), and more specifically the way Rivers announces that he’s coming in now. The way the rhythm section dig deep into an even more visceral swing behind Rivers’ flute solo (which is preceded by some fantastic digestive rumbles from Braxton’s contrabass clarinet). It’s a shame that the announcer talks over the beginning of Altschul’s drum solo, but kinda worth it to hear him use the phrase “jazz ecologique,” which is a fascinating concept I’d like someone to elaborate on one day. All in all, a fantastic document of four amazing musicians at a collective peak.
Watch the video: