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Barry Guy: Symmetries

Mark Corroto By

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Bassist Barry Guy has stepped away from his London Jazz Composers Orchestra to perform in small group settings and perform solo. His associations with the old and the new of the avant-garde have him collaborating with among many, Evan Parker and Mats Gustafsson. His solo recordings for bass, date back to 1976 with Statements V-XI For Double Bass & Violone, Assist (1985), and Fizzles (1993). His 1991 duets with bassist Barre Phillips on this same Maya records is well worth seeking out.

On Symmetries he displays a total command of his instrument, working the top and bottom ends to great effect. Guy challenges his listeners with inventive methods of approaching sound and playing. This recording is almost all improvised with the exception of two Charles Mingus tracks, “Weird Nightmare” and “Eclipse” and a couple others that have a distinct song form. The remaining music follows a free path of tones, pitches and ideas.

Guy follows up on his last solo record with a series of seven “Fizzles” or short, intense improvisations. These, while tending toward the extremes in music making, are instantly satisfying and digestible. His longer pieces require a bit more patience and repeated listening. On several, “Fizzles” and “Bichrome Terrors,” he emulates his fellow British Isle improviser Derek Bailey with eccentric technique and noisy touch. Other places he opts for an almost classical approach playing beautiful arco lines. His multi-track take on Mingus’ “Weird Nightmare” is haunting and majestic.


Title: Symmetries | Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Maya Recordings

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