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Musings of a Jazz geek

Derek Bailey & Evan Parker – The London Concert

Posted March 20, 2007

Derek Bailey and Evan Parker - The London Concert

I bought this CD last year, slightly on a whim, after watching Evan Parker’s Electro-acoustic ensemble at the London jazz festival. On its first play I couldn’t really see what was supposed to be happening, and I tossed it into a corner with no real intention of paying much attention to it again… However, playing it over again these last few days, I can’t really believe I missed it all first time round. (I’m being blown away re-listening to Part I as I’m writing…)

It’s a slightly random collection of solo and duo improvisations; a 1975 live recording from London’s Wigmore Hall. Parker plays soprano and tenor saxes through the first and second halves, respectively; Bailey starts off with a stereo set-up (each channel controlled by independent volume pedals) and finishes off with his (infamous?) 19-string behemoth (after reading this page I’m not too sure what ’19-string’ is supposed to mean, exactly?). I think this is about the earliest Parker record I’ve heard (except for late 60’s things with big Peter Brötzmann groups) and he’s playing a lot more staccato, with trembling screeches that I don’t recognise from the Evan Parker records I’m used to. I don’t know enough to be able to say whether this is just his contemporary style, or whether he’s specifically picking up on the fractured lines from Derek Bailey. Anyway, it’s really interesting, and alerted me to a time-gap in my record collection that needs to be filled. There’s definitely a Bailey shaped hole that needs filling quickly; the only other thing I have of him is the (excellent, rocking) Moat Recordings. Thing is, I know that’s really terrible and I should have more, but his discography looks a bit obtuse at the moment and I’m not too sure where to start… Any recommendations?

3 Responses to “Derek Bailey & Evan Parker – The London Concert”

Gravatarnate dorward said:

#1 (on 31/2/2007 at 6:54 am )

Yeah this is a tough one but a great one. Keep listening!

I’ve heard nothing good about The Moat Recordings & have avoided it. There’s a huge amount of Bailey out there but here are some faves among those I’ve heard–

1) solo guitar is the way to go. Two great ones: New Sights, Old Sounds (reissued recently on Incus) and Drop Me Off at 96th (Scatter, o/p). If you can’t get hold of the latter then Lace (Emanem) is from roughly the same time & is nearly as good. I’ve heard good things about Solo Guitar Vol 2 also (I only have vol. 1, which is not a very good place to start). Aida is excellent & was reissued at one point on Dexter’s Cigar but is now o/p again, alas.

2) get hold of Iskra 1903’s Chapter One on Emanem (3 CDs). Difficult but rewarding.

3) Dart Drug (Incus) is a great duo with Jamie Muir, not especially characteristic but it’s one of my favourites.

4) among recentish albums, I like One Time (Incus) w/ Kent Carter & John Stevens a lot (be forewarned: the mix is totally skewed towards the bass, so you have to play with the stereo settings a little). & No Waiting (Potlatch) w/ Joelle Leandre is a good one too.

Then there’s “weird one-offs”, which often got a lot of buzz at the time, maybe don’t seem so special now. Not a big fan of things like the ghastly encounter with Pat Metheny (Sign of Four) or the so-so discs with the Ruins. The album with Jamaaladeen Tacuma & Calvin Weston (Mirakle) is a lot of fun, though.

GravatarMatt said:

#2 (on 31/2/2007 at 11:28 am )

I liked The Moat Recordings because they seemed pretty up (and they were the first Bailey recordings I bought, concious of who he is) but I probably haven’t really listened to them properly… And, obviously, not much of an idea how they compare to much else of the Bailey oeuvre. Thanks a lot for all the info… A shopping trip needed soon, I think.

Gravatarnate dorward said:

#3 (on 31/2/2007 at 3:17 pm )

FWIW I actually quite like the reconvened trio’s previous album Joseph Holbrooke ’98, so who knows, might get something out of the Tzadik session. But it’s probably not a terribly representative Bailey CD, no (certainly the 1998 record isn’t!).

Another one I should probably have mentioned is the recent reissue of the SME’s Quintessence on Emanem. Not that Bailey has a prominent role on it, but it’s certainly one of the best instances of his work with SME (along with the sadly out-of-print Karyobin).

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