Anthony Braxton/Gerry Hemingway

mode avant 9/12

Old Dogs (2007)


Avant 09/12 Anthony BRAXTON & Gerry HEMINGWAY: Old Dogs (2007) – Braxton, saxes, Hemingway, drums, percussion, electronics. 4-CD boxed set.

In stock

Old Dogs (2007)
Previously released as a compact disc. (viewed Aug. 2, 2013). Anthony Braxton, saxophones ; Gerry Hemingway, percussion. Recorded Aug. 1-2, 2007 in the Daltry Room, Wesleyan University, Wesleyan, Conn.

CD 1: Invention 8107AM  (61:54)
CD 2: Invention 8107PM  (59:31)
CD 3: Invention 8207AM  (60:58)
CD 4: Invention 820 7PM (61:42)

Anthony Braxton
Eb Sopranino, Bb Soprano, Eb Alto, C Melody, Eb Baritone, Bb Bass and Bb Contrabass saxophones

Gerry Hemingway
Drums, Marimba, Vibraphone, Steel Drums, Wood Blocks, Triggered and Non-triggered Samplers, Harmonica, Voice, Percussion

Anthony Braxton & Gerry Hemingway, two modern jazz legends, are reunited after many years in this 4-CD boxed set of duo improvisations for saxes with drums, various percussion, and electronics.

Hemingway joined and remained a member of the infamous Anthony Braxton quartet for eleven years from 1983 – 1994. This set documents their first recorded collaboration in 12 years.

Using an hourglass as a guide, each CD contains one 60-minute improvisation, and each improvisation is very different in character and instrumentation. These  studio recordings were made at Wesleyan University in August 2007.

Released to celebrate Braxton’s 65th birthday, the recordings are packaged in cardboard slipcase with paper sleeves for the CDs. The 12-page booklet includes liner notes by Graham Lock, and is illustrated with copious photos from the recording session.


Old Dogs (2007) Anthony Braxton / Gerry Hemingway | Mode Records (2010)

It is very difficult to separate the music of saxophonist Anthony Braxton and percussionist Gerry Hemingway from the actual experience of listening to four-disc, four-plus hour Old Dogs (2007). Each disc represents a morning or afternoon’s work, recorded at Wesleyan University in early August, 2007, requiring almost complete immersion—letting go each moment, as it passes. There is little possibility of consuming this music in one sitting; it requires listening in either small bites, or an unfettered approach of allowing the music to flow through.

Hemmingway was a member of Braxton’s quartet from 1983-1994 (one of the saxophonist’s most successful groups), along with bassist Mark Dresser and pianist Marilyn Crispell. Braxton’s past history with Hemingway paved the way for these inspired sessions; the two reuniting twelve years after the end of the quartet.

Braxton has recorded many duo outings with a wide variety of players, including Joe Morris, Fred Frith, Taylor Ho Bynum, Evan Parker, Andrew Cyrille, and Derek Bailey. Here, he plays seven different saxophones (his tenor had been stolen), while Hemmingway often steps away from his drum kit to take up various instrument he found at the Wesleyan facility, including marimba and vibraphone—both of which he has played on other recordings.

The variety and diversification of sound heard here is staggering. Without dividing each hour-long disc into tracks, the pair seamlessly knits the different improvisations together. The overall interplay or conversation between Braxton and Hemingway can be the emphasis, or smaller parts of the whole can be encountered and treasured. In 100 years of recorded jazz music, early recordings by artists like Louis Armstrong were limited to but three short minutes; with Old Dogs (2007), the outstanding Braxton and Hemmingway were granted a full hour at a time, and they provide a total experience of sound.

Track listing: Invention 8107AM; Invention 8107PM; Invention 8207AM; Invention 8207PM.

Personnel: Anthony Braxton: Eb sopranino saxophone, Bb saxophone, Eb alto saxophone, C melody saxophone, Eb baritone saxophone, Bb bass saxophone, Bb contrabass saxophone; Gerry Hemingway: drums, marimba, vibraphone, steel drums, wood blocks, triggered and non- triggered samplers, harmonica, voice, percussion.

Mark Corroto, All About Jazz, 12 August 2010



The saxophonist Anthony Braxton and the drummer Gerry Hemingway share a discrete chunk of the new-music timeline: From the early 1980s through the mid-’90s, when Mr. Hemingway was a member of Mr. Braxton’s quartet. The two musicians hadn’t worked seriously together for over a decade when they recorded some duo improvisations a few years ago at Wesleyan University, where Mr. Braxton enjoys a magisterial tenure. “Old Dogs (2007)” (Mode/Avant) gathers the music on four CDs, each conveying an on-the-fly formal coherence, and each otherwise distinct. (“Invention 8207AM,” Disc 3, strikes me as the best of the batch. For now.) Mr. Braxton ranges broadly within the saxophone family, from B-flat contrabass to E-flat sopranino, and Mr. Hemingway supplements his drum kit with samplers, harmonica, mallet percussion and occasional vocals. Their output feels both sweeping and intimate, never glib, and rich with unfolding possibility.

Nate Chinen, The New York Times, 11 July 2010


[4 CD Box Set + Book] (Mode AVANT09-12; USA)

Featuring Anthony Braxton on sopranino, alto, C melody, baritone, bass & contrabass saxes and Gerry Hemingway on drums, marimba, steel drums, samplers, percussion, harmonica & voice.

When Brian Brandt from Mode told me about this box-set a few months ago, I was most excited. Percussionist extraordinary Gerry Hemingway was a member of the great Anthony Braxton Quartet for about a decade with Marilyn Crispell & Mark Dresser. Braxton fans, myself included, consider this quartet to be amongst the greatest of all modern jazz/new music ensembles. Since Mr. Braxton always looks forward to new challenges with mostly new musicians, it seemed unlikely that Braxton would go back to playing with this quartet anytime soon. Strangely enough, two things happened which surprised and delighted us all Braxton fanatics: this disc and the reuniting of the great quartet for one amazing song (Trane’s “Impression”) at a Braxton Benefit & Celebration Night a couple of weeks ago (6/18/10) at Le Poisson Rouge in NYC.

Since the parting of the great quartet, Mr. Braxton and Mr. Hemingway have continued to evolve as musicians and composers so no doubt that both musicians have changed. All four discs are completely improvised and only Braxton’s hourglass was used to keep their sets down to one hour. Hence, each disc explores somewhat different terrain as they switch between instruments and interact at length. Mr. Braxton switches between seven saxes from the highest (sopranino) the the lowest (bass sax) and Hemingway also utilizes a variety of percussion instruments and samplers. This is improvisation at its best, a dialogue between two masters. The informative liner notes by Braxton author Graham Locke include quotes from both musicians discussing this music. Braxton explains and names dozen of different improv strategies, showing that improvisation has continually evolved and is much more diverse than would would believe. The results of which show that both of these musicians bring a great deal to what they do and then continue to explore with what they do. Each of the four discs is like a novel or book of short stories. There is no reason for me to try to describe this treasure any further since words can’t really explain the depths of the explorations contained within. Four hours may seem like a long time but you know that it what it takes to appreciate fully what Anthony Braxton and Gerry Hemingway have left us with. Take the time, the rewards are deep and certainly worthwhile.

Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery, July 2010


Vieilles Carnes

Enregistré en 2006, Old Dogs, que l’on pourrait librement traduire par Vieilles Carnes, consacre, à travers un coffret de quatre disques, les retrouvailles d’Anthony Braxton et du batteur mirifique de son légendaire quartette, Gerry Hemingway…

Braxton/ Hemingway

« Old Dogs (2006) »

Avant/Mode Records 9/12 (Codaex)

Leur première rencontre discographique remonte à 1983 quand Anthony Braxton, à la recherche d’une formation durable pouvant interpréter sa musique dans une certaine continuité, offre à Gerry Hemingway le siège de batteur d’un quartet qui deviendra, deux ans plus tard et quelques changements de personnel, un des combos essentiels de l’histoire du jazz moderne, l’égal de ceux d’Ornette Coleman (59-61) et de John Coltrane (1961-1965). Lorsque le saxophoniste sonne l’heure de la dissolution en 1994, le batteur/percussionniste possède déjà tout un passé de leader, au sein de la formation BassDrumBone et de groupes dans lesquels figurent ou figureront des musiciens tels que le tromboniste Walter Wierbos, les saxophonistes Michael Moore, Frank Gratkowski, Ellery Eskelin et mène, sous l’appelation  Chamber WorksElectro-Acoustics Works, une recherche personnelle. Il multipliera ensuite et jusqu’à nos jours, les rencontres (avec George Graewe, John Butcher, Thomas Lehn, Rudresh Mahantappa où même Cecil Taylor que croisera à son tour le saxophoniste un peu plus tard).

Anthony Braxton, pour sa part, s’est imposé depuis 1993 comme la superstar de l’avant-garde de la musique afro-américaine. Avec 400 compositions à son compteur, un nombre incalculable de CD publié chaque année, des rencontres incessantes des deux côtés de l’Atlantique avec des musiciens d’une grande variété, il multiplie les performances solitaires comme les projets pharaoniques (deux coffrets de 4 disques de standards, un autre de 9 disques regroupant ses compositions jouées par un groupe de 13 musiciens, l’enregistrement complet de sa musique pour piano par Geneviève Foccroulle). En s’appuyant sur des formations au personnel changeant, composées de ses élèves de l’Université de Wesleyan, il aborde en toute liberté vers 1995, une nouvelle phase de sa carrière appelée Ghost Trance Music (basée sur la répétition de lignes musicales aux variations infinies, le soliste gardant sa liberté à l’intérieur de ce cadre prédéterminé) qui a rendu encore un peu plus exponentielle une activité musicale sur laquelle l’âge (Braxton est né en 1945) et les ennuis de santé ne semblent pas avoir prise.


Deux jours à Wesleyan pour quatre disques, comportant chacun une Invention improvisée exécutée soit le matin, soit l’après-midi. Aucune règle, sinon celle de jouer une heure d’affilée et de tenter, une fois de plus, d’éprouver, de repousser peut-être, les limites du langage, du son, des structures de la musique à travers « un kaléidoscope de timbres et de couleurs » (Graham Lock). Une aventure à deux, utilisant une large gamme d’instruments (la famille des saxophones, moins le ténor, pour Braxton) ou assimilés (à côtés de la batterie et des percussions, les sampling d’Hemingway). Le résultat est bluffant : chaque disque se révèle parfaitement distinct des autres (nos préférés ? Le 2 et le 3) et explore, en les sublimant, toutes les possibilités offertes par  cette association restrictive et pourtant si riche. Jamais, peut-être, le saxophoniste n’a réussi à sonner de façon aussi convaincante aux saxophones basse et contrebasse, rarement batteur a su construire un univers percussif personnel si organiquement lié à la construction collective de la musique, pour une formidable réunion qui pourraient peut-être en entraîner d’autres -nous pensons ici à la reformation du quartette mythique tout entier, le temps d’un disque, d’une tournée ?

— Philippe Elhem, Le Vif (Belgium), 2012


Anthony Braxton
Gerry Hemingway