When Anthony Braxton’s name appeared on the Kennedy Center’s jazz schedule, it signaled a shakeup, precipitated by new Artistic Advisor Jason Moran. Braxton is not your traditional practitioner. In fact, Braxton may be the closest thing jazz has to a mad scientist. He takes a highly cerebral, organized approach to his chaotic-sounding compositions and solos, using notation and titles that resemble geometry problems. He also plays nearly every reed instrument in existence—primarily the alto sax but also the soprano and sopranino saxes, and bass and contrabass clarinets, among God knows how many others—and collaborates with warehouse-sized ensembles. For his first Kennedy Center performance in two decades, however, he leads the suitably unique Diamond Curtain Wall Quartet with Ingrid Laubrock on the second saxophone, Taylor Ho Bynum on cornet, and Mary Halvorson on guitar. Even Moran will join in as a guest on the piano. Those smiling bureaucrats in the Kennedy Center audience won’t know what hit them.
Anthony Braxton’s Diamond Curtain Wall Quartet performs at 7:30 p.m. at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater, 2700 F St. NW. $38. (202) 467-4600. kennedy-center.org.