Date of Release Mar 27, 1968+Apr 10, 1968 (recording)
While it is not as powerful or as revelatory as For Alto, Anthony Braxton's second album for Delmark, 3 Compositions of New Jazz is his debut as a leader and showcases just how visionary - or out to lunch depending on your point of view - he was from the very beginning. Recorded nine months after his debut with Muhal Richard Abrams on Levels and Degrees of Light, Braxton's compositional methodology and his sense of creating a band are in full flower. For one thing, there is no use of a traditional rhythm section, though drums and a piano are used. The band is comprised of Leroy Jenkins on violin and percussion, Braxton on everything from alto to accordion to mixer, Leo Smith on trumpet and bottles, and Abrams on piano (and alto clarinet on one track). All but one track - "The Bell" - are graphically titled, so there's no use mentioning titles because computers don't draw in the same way. There is a sonorous unity on all of these compositions, which Braxton would draw away from later. His use of Stockhausen is evident here, and he borrows heavily from the melodic precepts of Ornette Coleman. The use of Jenkins' violin as a melodic and lyric device frees the brass from following any kind of preset notion about what should be done. Abrams plays the piano like a percussion - not a rhythm - instrument, and colors the textural figures in, while Smith plays all around the open space trying hard not to fill it. This is a long and tough listen, but it's a light one in comparison to For Alto. And make no mistake: It is outrageously forward-thinking, if not - arguably - downright visionary. Braxton's 3 Compositions of New Jazz is an essential document of the beginning of the end.
- Thom Jurek (All Music Guide)