May is Derek Bailey memorial month at The Stone. It's fitting, then, that these Joseph Holbrooke recordings emerge now, as we mourn the fact that Bailey isn't physically with us anymore. The notes indicate that he was involved in the choice of material up to the end, happy that it was finally going to be released after years of delays. This double-disc set doesn't deserve a review; rather, it deserves a treatise, a close analysis of every moment, because each instant is blazing with such telepathy, energy and wit that only such treatment would really do the set justice.
Documentation of this legendary '60s trio was scarce. Apart from a ten-minute rehearsal extract from 1965, a forty-minute reunion concert from 1998 was released on the Incus label. The present sessions, recorded at London's Moat Studio soon after the concert, are more gratifying and stunningly effective. A moment then: Take the opening of "Campo, which perfectly exemplifies the lightning-flash brilliance of this veteran assemblage. Bailey snaps into action, followed hot on his heels by Gavin Bryars (bass) as they play something that morphs from a C-dominant chord to a gorgeously swelling D-Major, Bailey's harmonics in glorious effect. The two keep a motivic dialogue going until Bailey strikes four chords in rhythm, Tony Oxley cymbal-riveting perfectly on the fourth one. Two notes from Bryars and all recedes just for a moment, during which the group breathes and then it's off again...
What to say? Venturing that all manner of sound is here, from the subtlest near-silence to exploding roars, is still saying nothing. The fact that Bailey's use of distortion here seems more integrated in the overall texture than in the concert recording is such a minor point that it hardly warrants mentioning. Each player has achieved so much during the group's 33-year hiatus, sacrificing nothing. John Zorn deserves thanks for bringing this material out so quickly and so well, the package supplemented by funny, informative and touching notes by Bryars and Bailey that mirror the multifaceted music itself.
With the promise of more to be released, it's fitting to celebrate this important and powerful document from a group that defined everything to follow in its wake.
Track Listing: CD1: Orchard; Condensation; Crookesmoor; Campo; Fermata; Radio Bossa; Mappin. CD2:
Holderness; Cord; Tenter; Edinburgh; Cortical; Chiuso; From Bar Seven; Matilda.
Personnel: Derek Bailey: guitars; Gavin Bryars: bass; Tony Oxley: percussion.
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.