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Various Brits: Just Not Cricket!

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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 ...

DVD/VIDEO/FILM REVIEWS

Derek Bailey: Barcelona Chronicles

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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, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Derek Bailey: Standards

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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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Derek Bailey: Standards

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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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Derek Bailey, Keiji Haino, John McLaughlin, Pat Metheny, Carlos Santana: Five Gentlemen of the Guitar

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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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Derek Bailey: To Play: The Blemish Sessions

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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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Derek Bailey / Evan Parker: The London Concert

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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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Derek Bailey: Carpal Tunnel

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In 1977, suffering complications from a stroke that paralyzed the left side of his body, Rahsaan Roland Kirk made his way to Regent Sound Studios in New York to record what would become his final album, Boogie Woogie String Along For Real. Having long since devised a way to play saxophone with one hand (the technique he used to play three or more at once), Kirk had been able to find a way to play again, despite the limitations of his impairment.

It wasn't his best record, but it's a good one and notable for two reasons. First, Kirk seemingly ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Derek Bailey & Evan Parker: The London Concert

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"Historic is a very overused word in many contexts, so much so that it is devalued and I am loath to use it here. Nonetheless, it fits this release perfectly. Consider the facts: Derek Bailey and Evan Parker are without doubt the two most prolific, influential, and renowned improv players in the history of the music. They first came together at the birth of improv in the SME in 1967, together set up Incus records (along with Tony Oxley) in 1970, and continued playing together until they fell out in 1987, after which they have gone their separate ways. So ...

INTERVIEWS

Derek Bailey Interview: September 2001

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This interview dates from September 2001 and originally appeared in three parts in London Calling that autumn. Here is the interview in its entirety, interspersed with occasional commentary, some of which has been updated.

Although he lives in Hackney (as exciting and vibrant a part of London as you could hope to find), Derek Bailey plays relatively rarely in the capital these days. He is a world citizen, more likely to appear in Europe, Japan or New York than in Stoke Newington or Highgate. This year [2001], he will have played maybe six gigs in London, a lot for him. ...

DVD/VIDEO/FILM REVIEWS

Derek Bailey: Playing For Friends on 5th Street

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Derek Bailey Playing For Friends on 5th Street Straw2Gold Pictures 2004

This DVD is dedicated to the late Irving Stone and his wife Stephanie, once ubiquitous at NYC avant-garde concerts. Sadly, it can also be considered a dedication to Bailey himself, now retired due to ill health. But is also a tribute to the scene surrounding Downtown Music Gallery (DMG) and proprietors Bruce and Manny Gallanter. DMG is the closest we get here in NYC to the salons of Paris where artists, musicians and intellectuals gather in common interest and spirit. Chances are you'll ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Derek Bailey/Milo Fine: Scale Points on the Fever Curve

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This is the story of a kindly old British turtle and a hotshot Minnesotan rabbit who perhaps didn’t embark on a race so much as spend an hour or so running laps around each other. The turtle had known the rabbit, who was about a decade younger than him, for a long time. The turtle had been playing guitar for an even longer time, and was rather good at it, so at the appointed hour brought nothing but his trusty six-string and a volume pedal. When they met, however, the rabbit was carrying a ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Frode Gjerstad - John Stevens - Derek Bailey: Hello Goodbye

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Familiar notions of melody and structured rhythmic foundations are brushed aside throughout this splendid outing recorded to a DAT machine, two years prior to drummer John Stevens' untimely passing. Alto saxophonist Frode Gjerstad had apparently lost the tape, but he subsequently found it and cleaned it up. Fortunately, the music presented here is pristinely resurrected, much to our delight.

One of the overriding attributes of this production resides within Gjerstad’s rustling and somewhat elusive lines atop Stevens’ odd-metered slap, tap, brush and roll permutations. Guitar great Derek Bailey anchors, prods, and maintains an abstract sense of equilibrium ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Derek Bailey - Ingar Zach: LLaer

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There may not be any stringent regulations for freely organized improvisational encounters, yet in the wrong hands, music of this ilk can sound uninteresting, meandering or unbalanced. However, when famed guitarist, Derek Bailey and Norwegian drummer, Ingar Zach aligned their respective talents for this live outing, it becomes quite evident from the onset, that there is an underlying aura that seemingly resides from within the embodiment of the music at hand. On these seven pieces, the duo rarely duplicates any one sequence, yet a notable level of intuitiveness prevails, as they avoid collisions or any semblance of becoming reckless. Whether ...



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