Symphonist, philosopher, former chess hustler, and–not incidentally–the most rigorously individualistic improviser of the last quarter century, Anthony Braxton defies easy categorization. He considers the coolly logical Paul Desmond and the volcanic John Coltrane as equal influences, and compounds the heresy by bringing Arnold Schoenberg into the circle, too. Braxton’s output is too varied to accommodate simple, catchy descriptions: it ranges from an elastic view of parade music to lengthy solo works for soprano sax or contrabass clarinet, not to mention his plan for an antiphonal piece featuring symphony orchestras around the globe, linked by satellite. It’s fair to point out that his music supports (and in turn is supported by) an elaborate intellectual system that resembles science as much as art, and that he works within a unique and idiosyncratic artistic language. But that sounds so daunting; and anyway, his language is unwaveringly clear and thus communicatory, even if you’ve never heard anything quite like it before. Braxton will appear in Chicago with a “conventionally” instrumented quartet featuring the exciting pianist Marilyn Crispell, bassist Mark Dresser, and drummer Gerry Hemingway–but the day his music sounds “conventional” is the day that time stands still. Monday, 8 PM, Murray Theatre, Ravinia Festival, Green Bay and Lake Cook Rds., Highland Park; 728-4642.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Lauren Deutsch.