To listen to Live at FarOut, Atsugi 1987 is to apply the field of evolutionary biogeography to the world of jazz. Consider the unique evolutionary paths of the creatures on the isolated Galapagos islands and you have the basics of biogeography and its study of the distribution of species and ecosystems. Then there is another type of creature, the jazz innovator. Here we have guitarist Derek Bailey (1930-2005) from England and Japanese saxophonist Mototeru Takagi (1941-2002), both residents of their respective island nations. Both musicians were masters of free improvisation and both evolved in environments geographically apart from the American blues, jazz, free jazz, and free improvisation flashpoint. Keep in mind that in the middle of the twentieth century there was no internet and no downloads. Musicians on their respective islands could not turn on the spigot of sound we now enjoy. That isolation was a great factor in the development of the distinctive and idiosyncratic sound we associate with Bailey.
Sure, in both England and Japan the seeds of improvisation were planted through the trickle of recordings and occasional tours by American musicians, but for the most part we can now celebrate the evolution of these island sounds. Bailey is an artist known to most free improvisation aficionados, Takagi less so. The saxophonist was a member (for a short time) of Masayuki Takayanagi's New Direction Unit and he collaborated with the likes of Toshinori Kondo and Sabu Toyozumi. Takagi recorded with Milford GravesMeditation Among Us (Kitty Records, 1977) and Bailey Duo & Trio Improvisation (Kitty Records, 1978), when both artists were touring Japan. This recording from 1987 is being released for the first time and is an excellent example of a free improvisation metamorphosis on a biogeographic island that was seeded by migratory sounds.
The CD contains four duos (70 minutes) and the limited edition LP three tracts (52 minutes). Bailey for his part delivers a strong performance, albeit one that is sympathetic to Takagi's soprano saxophone. "Duo I" is a slow developing almost meditative (if that is possible) twenty-eight minutes. The pair are unhurried and deliberate. Takagi's sound comes closest to that of Steve Lacy and Lol Coxhill's straight horns, as he is capable of both a strong and a sympathetic sound. "Duo II" begins with a Bailey solo acoustic attack as Takagi enters nearly at the end of the track. "Duo IV" opens with the saxophonist pressing upper register notes before Bailey, now on electric guitar, paints a background landscape. Listeners can explore the uniqueness and musical biology of these superb free improvisation evolutionary branches.