While Braxton mostly carries the melody as he plays the reeds and William Parker is on Bass (tracks 1-4) and Milford Graves is on drums, I would not say that there is really a foreground or background in this music. And to be quite honest, although I've spent more money and time listening to the music of Braxton, I would say that this synergy can largely be attributed to William Parker whom is known to be a catalyst and a musician that other musicians want to play with. I say this because I can detect in this music how much Braxton's improvisation is influenced and elevated by the other musicians. I think of Parker's bass playing as somewhere between what carries the melody and what carries the rhythm. And for sure the bass players in this type of music are far from restricted to driving a simple 4/4. Parker's really all over the place and in a good way.
That said, Braxton's work on the reeds is exceptionally amazing. And precisely because of this collaboration I would love to have him record with Parker more(and for that matter, Graves). As a soloist and improviser, Braxton plays the range of reeds from sopranino to alto with a distinct style-and to be honest, one that he sometimes has trouble getting out of in my opinion. But he is on fire the whole way through this performance. And as for Fifth Meeting: well, all of the above apply, except to the 10th degree. I mean you've got Parker on the Bombard (seriously, the snake charming instrument) and Braxton is probably more on fire than I've ever heard him.
I'd have to say that while Graves is an excellent drummer I am so impressed by William Parker and the exceptional performance of Anthony Braxton that I can't offer too much except to say that he reminds me somewhat of Rashied Ali, perhaps tending a little more toward finesse than raw power. And I read a review that cited Parker as the least known musician--well, he may well be; I've just discovered him. But I will certainly track down his recordings and get as many as I can. I think I read that he's been the main catalyst of the New York scene for some time. And after listening to Piercing the Veil and the reviewed album, I can see why.
The compositional originality of Anthony Braxton in my opinion can't be overstated. To me, I can barely detect the hint of any other composer in his work, and I think it's because he's just about taken in everything. Sometimes I hear Cecil Taylor, but his stuff is just way out there. On the other hand his improv. doesn't always absolutely floor me though it is always good, and sometimes it is up there with the best of all the great reed players. And it is certainly there on this recording.