Bruise with Derek Bailey
Available as MP3 download (£6.00) and Audio CD (£12.00)
Derek Bailey : Electric Guitar
Tony Bevan : Bass Saxophones
Orphy Robinson : Steel Drum, Marimbula, Percussion, Electronics, Trumpet
John Edwards : Double Bass
Ashley Wales : Soundscapes & Electronics
Mark Sanders : Drums & Percussion
Gig of the year – Derek Bailey’s return in triumph from Barcelona to East London. Phillip Clark, Jazz Review
Sonically this is maybe not the best document – a straight-to-DAT recording from a gig at London’s 291 Gallery, acoustically somewhat muddled though quite acceptable – but it’s essential listening for Derek Bailey fans. As usual, the guitarist sought out the company of younger players – in this case, the acoustic/electronic (not “electroacoustic”) quintet responsible for Bruised, one of last year’s best and most overlooked improv records. The new disc is, among other things, the final chapter in the longstanding relationship between Bailey and bass saxophonist Tony Bevan. It’s hard not to hear real poignancy in Bevan’s playing here, which is stripped down so far it’s as if he’s trying to make an entire musical language out of achingly isolated notes. There’s also the tickle of hearing Bailey with the blue-chip UK free-improv rhythm section of John Edwards and Mark Sanders. The off-balance recording makes it harder to parse the electronic input from Orphy Robinson and (especially) Ashley Wales, but they’re certainly responsible for the haunting, elusive soundscaping (I was also surprised at the closeness in timbre between Robinson’s steel drums and Bailey’s distorted guitar).
Derek Bailey was the kind of player an Oulipian would love, someone for whom obstacles were occasions for necessary creativity. By the time this disc was recorded in August 2004 he was already suffering from what was initially diagnosed as carpal tunnel syndrome but later turned out to be degenerative motor neurone disease. In response, he simply went calmly about refashioning his entire approach to the instrument. I’ve always loved the spacious, floaty interludes that occur on his discs, when isolated sound-events – a slow-swelling discord, a quiet scrape over the length of a string – are dropped into silence like pebbles cast in a well. His playing throughout this album is like an album-length exploration of that particular corner of his music. His tone on the instrument is much softer than before – by this point he was playing without a pick – and his improvisations are constructed out of quiet, separately twisted fragments. There’s nothing overtly valedictory about the music – the three tracks are called “Search”, “Locate” and “Destroy”, after all – but it is nonetheless hard not to be moved by a few moments here. Bevan’s soft-spoken duet with Bailey near the end of the album, in particular, serves as an achingly beautiful farewell to his mentor, so much so that it’s almost a relief when the full band regroups for a final pummelling blowout. ND “ParisTransAtlantic”
FOGCD006 : Bruise with Derek Bailey (Foghorn Records April 1st 2006)
Recorded live at the 291 Gallery, Hackney Road, London E2 England by Ashley Wales. Post-production and Mastering: Asa Bennett at sonic studios.
All Compositions by: Bailey (compatible recording & publishing ltd), Bevan (PRS), Robinson (PRS), Edwards (PRS), Wales (Chrysalis Music) and Sanders (PRS).
Design by Paul Dunn @ diablo based on original artwork by Ashley Wales.
Thanks to Karen, George and Sultana. Dedicated to the memory of my dear friend Derek. “Search, locate and destroy” was Derek’s motto. Tony Bevan.
C & P Foghorn Records (uk) 2006.