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Bruise: Bruise With Derek Bailey (2006)

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Bruise: Bruise With Derek Bailey How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

A breathtaking, deep-space adventure in sonic exploration, Bruise With Derek Bailey documents the last British concert given by free improvisation auteur Derek Bailey. The performance presents the veteran guitarist with a lineup some one or two generations younger than himself, playing alongside heirs to the tradition he helped create in the 1960s and 1970s. It is magnificent music and an important historical document.

Recorded at the 291 Gallery in Hackney, London in August 2004, Bailey was 74 going on 24 and suffering from motor neuron disease, complications from which would lead to his death last December. Bailey was already challenged by diminishing dexterity—he was no longer able to grip a plectrum, for example—but the crystalline, shards-of-glass style he more or less invented for the guitar, and the torrent of ideas and inventions which characterised his work, showed no signs of decline.

The three track titles—"Search," "Locate," Destroy"—are from a motto of Bailey's, and aren't literal descriptions of the album's progression. True, "Search" starts things off in a relatively tentative fashion, led by Bailey and bass saxophonist Tony Bevan, and "Locate" and "Destroy" do progressively raise the assertion and the volume, but light and shade, clamour and reflection, and a collective galaxy of textural variation distinguish each of the tracks.

Bruise, as demonstrated on last year's superb Bruised, is amongst the UK's most thrilling improvising bands—and a real band: they won't accept bookings unless all five members are available (no deps). Already in largely uncharted territory with Bevan's bass saxophone, they venture even further out through the inspired inclusion of multi-instrumentalist Orphy Robinson, often heard on digitally mutated marimba and steel drum; and revolutionary Spring Heel Jack electronicist Ashley Wales, who was also responsible for the fine audio quality of this recording, using a single stereo microphone straight to DAT. Bassist John Edwards and drummer Mark Sanders (who are also members of the Spring Heel Jack project, along with other leading British improvising groups) are vital contributors too, equally creative in forceful attacking mode or passages of pastel delicacy.

A startling and spring fresh cosmos of sound, the album was fully authorised for release by Bailey, and it's a major addition to both his own and Bruise's discographies.

Track Listing: Search; Locate; Destroy.

Personnel: Derek Bailey: electric guitar; Tony Bevan: bass saxophone; Orphy Robinson: electronics, steel drum and percussion, trumpet; Ashley Wales: electronics and soundscapes; John Edwards: double bass; Mark Sanders: drums and percussion.

Record Label: Foghorn Records

Style: Modern Jazz


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