Put out earlier this year on Tzadik, this is three studio-based duets, all recorded in 1975 and now receiving their first proper release. The three tracks clock up to around half an hour of improvised music, plus the disc is supplemented by a ten-minute Tony Oxley solo—The advocate, for Derek Bailey—recorded at last year’s John Zorn-curated Derek Bailey tribute concert. (That piece—and most of the rest of the concert—was in fact originally broadcast last summer by the BBC’s Jazz on 3 programme… Hmm… I must have a tape of that lying around somewhere!)
The duets were pretty much what I thought I’d expect; tight fractured playing from Bailey, with wide and varied percussion from Tony Oxley. (When he was playing with Cecil Taylor at the Royal Festival Hall a few years back, I remember his kit being pretty gigantic… Has it always been that big, or is it just something he’s built up slowly, over time?) Oxley also does some electronics I think, and it’s great just what a wide range of sounds he’s capable of producing… However, for the most part, this disc seems like something of a run-through; totally accomplished, totally swinging, great music but not really pushing it out… In fact, it’s the final Oxley solo piece that I find is the real stand-out track. He sculpts sound, producing something intense but with an engaging rhythmic drive (and something more directly rhythmic than the duo tracks). Not a bad disc at any rate (and it’s only the third-ish of Bailey’s that I own) it’s just that I’m sure that there’s probably a lot more out there on which they both have much more to say.