In the 1972 Monty Python Flying Circus skit Are You Embarrassed," the announcer reads the lines, Are you embarrassed easily? I am. But it's nothing to worry about; it's all part of growing up and being British." The announcer goes on to describe embarrassing words like Shoe" ..... Megaphone" ..... Grunties," to test the listener's discomfort level. Somehow, even though the words spoken (in English) by the troupe were in a common language, the humor was quite alien to American audiences. The same can be said of British free improvisation. Born of a common language, American jazz, then free jazz ...read more
Barcelona Chronicles is the collective title for two Incus DVDs and one CD which document guitarist Derek Bailey playing on three occasions in Barcelona between February 2004 and May 2005. Bailey had moved there from Hackney, London, in 2003. During the spring of 2004, he began experiencing muscular difficulties; in June 2004 he dropped his plectrum during a solo performance. He was initially wrongly diagnosed as having Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. In August 2005, he was diagnosed as having Motor Neuron Disease. Throughout the period documented here, Bailey experienced the progressive effects of his disease and adapted his playing technique accordingly, ...read more
In 2002 Bailey released one of his most unusual CDs, Ballads (Tzadik), a solo performance with him freely improvising on standards. This is a second installment, though this recording actually precedes Ballads. Liner notes by Karen Brookman-Bailey and John Zorn recall Christmas 2001: The Baileys--Derek in New York to pick up a new guitar--invited Zorn and Ikue Mori to their suite for dinner. During the evening, Bailey took out the vintage Epiphone Emperor (an oversized acoustic archtop designed for big band rhythm playing without amplification) and started to play classic pop tunes. As Brookman-Bailey points out, we might locate the ...read more
The world is a bit lonelier now that guitarist Derek Bailey has passed away. The freedom his music allowed is, or should be, a model to every musician and listener interested in the creative process.
This signature album, Standards, follows the 2002 Tzadik Records release of the infamous Ballads sessions, but was in fact recorded before those tracks. The liner notes reveal that these seven standards were made at the request of fellow musician and label head John Zorn after a holiday dinner in 2001. It was only after Bailey returned to the UK that he suggested the release of ...read more
This looks like a cheaply produced bootleg--shoddy black and white cover, with no information other than personnel, track titles and the enigmatic line, Turin, 2000. But--and it's a big but--the music is well recorded and sounds genuine; it sounds like these five were actually playing together, something that's hard to fake, no matter how good the editing.
It is easy to speculate how this meeting came about. Derek Bailey had played with Keiji Haino before and also recorded with Pat Metheny. John McLaughlin and Carlos Santana famously recorded together, back in the days when their shared interests included white clothing ...read more
Much has been discussed and said about improvisation in every form. In its search for freedom from conventional and standard forms, improvised music has gone into all kinds of directions. The results cannot be described in conventional terms, since musicians headed this direction have done everything they can to subvert and discard the principles of music theory. While free jazz, which has been associated with free improv, has often remained anchored by using licks to structure the improvised material, free improv has given more emphasis to moods and textures, rather than standard forms of rhythm, harmony or melody. In a ...read more
By Ken Waxman
The London Concert, recorded in the mid-'70s, is a historical document which preserves mature manifestations of Bailey's sound, which continues to shape British improv. The Psi reissue adds thirty-odd minutes to the previously released 1975 LP version on the Incus label, boosting its length to more than 69 minutes. Still in their honeymoon period, Bailey and Evan Parker offered both solo and duo material, with the reedman playing soprano and tenor saxophones and Bailey playing a stereo guitar with volume pedals, as well as a modified nineteen-string guitar.
Despite the hardware, there are no signs of prog ...read more