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*Anthony Braxton was born on this date in 1945. He is a Black jazz experimental composer, educator, music theorist, improviser, and multi-instrumentalist.
He was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Julia Samuels Braxton, from Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Clarence Dunbar Braxton Sr., from Greenville, Mississippi. Braxton's father worked for the Burlington and Quincy Railroad. His parents divorced when he was young, and his mother remarried Lawrence Fouche, a worker at the Ford Motor Company.
Braxton grew up living with his mother, stepfather, and three brothers but still saw his father regularly. He grew up on the South Side, attended Betsy Ross Grammar School, and had a paper route delivering The Chicago Defender. He sang in a church choir, had an early love of rock music, and was excited by rocket ships, television, and early technology. In his early teens, Braxton took his at-home explorations of technology and electronics to Chicago Vocational High School, where drafting courses and time in shop studying wiring schematics set the course for his future compositional diagrams.
After high school, Braxton attended Wilson Junior College for one semester, and in 1963, applied and was admitted to the United States Fifth Army Band. He was initially stationed in Highland Park, Illinois, but later traveled to South Korea with The Eighth Army Band. While in South Korea, he met several improvising musicians and led his group. After discharge, Braxton left the army, returned to Chicago, and studied philosophy and music composition at Roosevelt University.
Shortly after returning to Chicago, Braxton met Roscoe Mitchell, who invited him to practice with the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), and later, he joined the group. Braxton played over ten instruments on his 1968 debut, 3 Compositions of New Jazz. Braxton was initially pessimistic about making a living as a working musician. He received great acclaim for his 1969 double-LP record For Alto, the first full-length album of solo saxophone music.
In 1970, he joined pianist Chick Corea's trio to form the short-lived Avant Garde quartet Circle. A prolific composer with a vast body of cross-genre work, the MacArthur Fellow and NEA Jazz Master has released hundreds of recordings and compositions. During six years signed to Arista Records, the diversity of his output encompassed work with many members of the AACM, including Muhal Richard Abrams and Hamiet Bluiett. Many of his projects are ongoing; he has released the first six operas in the Trillium Opera Complex series. Braxton identifies as a "trans-idiomatic" composer and has repeatedly opposed the idea of a rigid dichotomy between improvisation and composition.
He has written extensively about the "language music" system that forms the basis for his work and developed a philosophy of "world creativity" in his Tri-Axium Writings. Braxton taught at Mills College from 1985 to 1990 and was Professor of Music at Wesleyan University from 1990 until his retirement at the end of 2013. He is the artistic director of the Tri-Centric Foundation, a nonprofit he founded in 1994 to support the preservation and production of works by Braxton and other artists "in pursuit of 'trans-idiomatic' creativity."