Monday, December 25, 2006

Derek Bailey - Anthony Braxton - Royal Volume 1

It has been exactly one year... This very day he passed away...

On May 25, 1996 I visited the Downs Road (was it 14?) where Incus Records is at and got some lps and cds from Bailey. I will not ever forget the moment. There he was standing and choosing some lps that he is trying to give me. One of these is the one with Braxton, Royal Volume I. Let's hear from Ben Watson:
(...) on July 1974, Bailey and Brxton played another duo concert, this time in the somewhat less hallowed surroundings of the Royal Hotel in Lutton. The first part was issued by Incus ten years later as Royal Volume I [Incus 43; the hopeful title has never been consummated by a second volume]. There is no 'compositional' agenda, and the two players dive straight into the knotted tangles that their agility and high-pitched instruments invite. (...) After grappling like boxers in a huddle, Braxton and Bailey separate and bob alongside ach other without engaging in explicit note doublings or discords, but there's some mutual understanding of tempo as the pace never relents and they recombine without a moment of confusion. As the dialogue deepens and Bailey's accompaniment starts to sound orchestral, the clarinet/ guitar pairing suddenly seems classic (...). As Bailey and Braxton reach a mellifluous congruity - though not via subservience to any known music - it's evident that they'll soon delight in picking it all apart again. This is music as purest thought; each affirmation is pursued by a denial or question Like reading Finnegans Wake, it takes a few passages before the mind adjusts an starts listening in the right way; suddenly there are glimpses of a world where pure intuition could speak, transcending established vocabulary and grammer. (...) One awaits the release of Royal Volume 2 with impatience.
quoted from Ben Watson's book "Derek Bailey and the story of free improvisation", first publish, Verso 2004, p.192-193.

Now let's hear what Derek Bailey wrote about Anthony Braxton :
Anthony Braxton, who works, as did many of his great predecessors, to extend his tradition and not merely to celebrate it, has been at various times a favourite target of the propagandists, attacking him for: betraying his race (as was Louis Armstrong); being an intellectual (as was Charlie Parker); and diluting the musical purity of his tradition (as was John Coltrane). In short, he stands accused of just about all those things which have previously served to enrich and strengthen jazz. Braxton, recognised by the musicians who work with him as an outstanding musical figure, is unlikely to be deflected by this sort of stuff but if jazz no longer values the sort of qualities he represents then it has a pretty arid future.
from Derek Bailey's book, "Improvisation: its nature and practice in music" Da Capo Press, 1993, p.57.

And Anthony Braxton's words:
I invited Derek Bailey to Paris. In fact I wrote a piece for Derek: at the time I didn't realize he was totally not interested in notated music. I heard Derek's music the first time I came to London, with Circle. We stopped over for a couple of days and I played at the 100 Club with Mike Osborne, that was my first performance in London. Thanks to Dave Holland I'd already heard Derek's records and later that week I heard him live at the Little Theatre. He did a solo gig and, boy, his music excited me. I felt I could really play with this man.
Braxton interviewed by Graham Lock. From Graham Lock's wonderful book "Forces in Motion, The Music and Thoughts of Anthony Braxton", Da Capo Press, 1989, p.129

Well, my first exposure to the British musicians who came around the same time period as myself was through Dave Holland. Dave played the records of John Stevens and later when we went to London, I had opportunity to meet these people and I found their music fascinating. And I try to let them know that I was interested in their music and that I respected their music. And that I was not coming to visit England as the angry American who thinks only Americans can play. I'm not interested in that. And after meeting with Evan Parker and Derek Bailey, I found a natural affinity with these guys and my musical experiences with them had been very beautiful for me. And so, yes their music was very different from mine in terms of the melodic nature or non-melodic character. But in fact, the melodic character of my music is only one aspect of my music. The records speak for itself now. We have many recordings and I have always felt very, I felt connected to Evan Parker and to some of the improvisers and able to play with them. And for me, it was always a positive experience, I've learned a great deal from that experience. But I did not want to only play improvised music, because myself, for me it would be a limitation, because my interest is not just in this area of music. I'm interested in totally music.
October 15th, 1995, interview with the blogger, published at restructures - creative music forum

And as for the last, there are two wonderful obituaries for Derek Bailey:
1. The Wire, 2.1.2006 by David Toop,
2. The Guardian, 29.12.2005 by John Fordham.

Anthony Braxton / Derek Bailey
Royal volume 1

Incus 43 (LP, 1984)
1. Opening (opening) [26:41]
2. Opening (closing) [16:13]
Anthony Braxton (ss, as, Bb-cl, cbcl)
Derek Bailey (el-g)
2nd of July, 1974
Royal Hall, Luton, England (UK)