Anthony Braxton Project

Chapter Two (Paris)

1969-1970 Chronology

1969 Actuel Festival FlyerWe went to Paris because it made no sense to stay in Chicago after 1969. We were dying. And I had been reading about Europe for years. I thought there was a possibility people would be more interested in the music. I went on ahead of Leo and Leroy. I took a plane to Paris; I had a one-way ticket and fifty dollars in my pocket.

- from Graham Lock: Force In Motion: The Music and Thoughts of Anthony Braxton, p.55.

Braxton moved to Paris in June 1969, hot on the heels of Roscoe Mitchell, Joseph Jarman, Malachi Favors and Lester Bowie, a quartet who in Paris took on the name “the Art Ensemble of Chicago.” Braxton soon gigged with the Art Ensemble, and also recorded with European based musicians like Gunther Hampel and Jacques Coursil. As he rode in a taxi from the train station on arrival, Braxton saw fellow AACM member Steve McCall on the street. Soon McCall would join Braxton, violinist Leroy Jenkins and trumpeter Leo Smith in a quartet sometimes called the “Anthony Braxton Quartet” or the “Creative Construction Company.” 

That same day I went to Montparnasse and ran into Joseph Jarman and Don Moye - Joseph looked up right into my face, he could not believe it (chuckles). They thought they'd seen the last of Braxton! (Laughs.) I also met Kenneth Terroade, Claude Delcloo; the magazine Actuel was starting; there was a whole new political scene beginning in Paris. Then Leo and Leroy arrived, they'd taken a boat over. Steve McCall joined the group, playing percussion. We lived on one side of the city, the Art Ensemble lived on the other.

- from Graham Lock: Forces In Motion: The Music and Thoughts of Anthony Braxton, p.82.

In October 1969, Braxton played at the BYG Amougies festival on the France/Belgium border. Here he met Frederick Rzewski and Richard Teitelbaum of the improvised electronic group Musica Elettronic Viva (MEV). Braxton also was featured in a gangster movie, Borsalino, playing clarinet in a jazz band (along with Lester Bowie) in the final scene. Braxton returned to Chicago in early 1970.

Braxton’s music during this period is well-documented on a number of commercial releases, including two under his name on the BYG/Actuel label.  There is also an unreleased recording of a radio broadcast by the quartet.

Borsalino filmTop photo: Amougies, October 1969 festival poster.
Bottom photo: Still from the film Borsalino (1970). (l-r): Alain Delon, Anthony Braxton, unknown, Lester Bowie, unknown, Jean-Paul Belmondo.

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