The Music Improvisation Company (2023 Remaster) Derek Bailey

Album info



Label: ECM Records

Genre: Jazz

Subgenre: Avantgarde Jazz

Artist: Derek Bailey

Album including Album cover

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  • 1Third Stream Boogaloo02:40
  • 2Dragon Path10:23
  • 3Packaged Eel08:42
  • 4Untitled No. I07:05
  • 5Untitled No. II07:32
  • 6Tuck03:04
  • 7Wolfgang van Gangbang06:54
  • Total Runtime46:20

Info for The Music Improvisation Company (2023 Remaster)

The Music Improvisation Company documents the coming together of some of Britain’s most adventurous improvisers – guitar experimentalist Derek Bailey, saxophonist Evan Parker, electronics-man Hugh Davies and percussionist Jamie Muir –, combining their multiple-idioms spanning reach in a fiery display of collective musicianship. Here shape, texture and oblique dissonant constructions operate on equal terms.

Derek Bailey is a pioneer of British free improvisation, and although this is one of his earliest recordings, it houses much of what he would come to be known for: microscopic precision, a love of empty space, a supremely fractured aesthetic, and a subtle disregard for the rules. As with his later solo outings and fruitful collaborations with John Zorn and other bastions of the avant-garde, Bailey brings full commitment to the table in this early, digitally reissued ECM recording. Yet how to describe it? A possessed duck call tripping down a flight of stairs into a pile of discarded instruments? A broken jack-in-the-box heavily amplified on cheap speakers? A radio being tortured to give up its innermost secrets? None of these comes close to mapping the album’s rambling course. Still, the results are consistent. So much so that track titles like “Packaged Eel” do nothing to deepen our understanding of the goings on. As can be expected from the roster, the musicianship is of indisputable quality. Evan Parker awes with his outbursts of indiscernible melody while Bailey cultivates an anonymous approach, cutting in and out from behind a surgeon’s mask.

The Music Improvisation Company is nothing more or less than what one makes of it. Its difficulties are also what make it go down smoothly. A mysterious morsel that yields a new flavor with every taste.

Derek Bailey, guitar
Hugh Davies, electronics
Jamie Muir, percussion
Evan Parker, soprano saxophone
Christine Jeffrey, vocals (tracks 1 & 5)

Recorded August 25–27, 1970 at Merstham Studios, London
Produced by Manfred Eicher

Digitally remastered by Christoph Stickel

Derek Bailey (1930-2005)
was born in Sheffield into a family of musicians. He gained his first professional experience as a session musician with mainstream singers, including Gracie Fields. Bailey was already experimenting with free playing by the time he moved to London and joined the collective that grew around drummer John Stevens‘ Little Theatre Club sessions in the late 1960s.

Here he met and worked with Evan Parker, Kenny Wheeler and Dave Holland who collectively recorded ‘Karyobin’ as the 1968 incarnation of the Spontaneous Music Ensemble. Bailey was able to record prolifically from 1970 with the formation of the musician-owned label Incus, along with Parker and drummer Tony Oxley. Recordings with Anthony Braxton, Gavin Bryars, John Zorn, Pat Metheny, and tap dancer Will Gaines reflect his open mind and rewarding but challenging approach to free improvisation and an exploration of the guitar.

Bailey was instrumental in the formation of the free improvising collective, Company, in 1976, which drew in international figures from Avant Garde jazz like Americans Steve Lacy, John Zorn, Fred Frith and Leo Smith, as well as Europeans like Misha Mengelberg and Han Bennink.

Bailey wrote and presented a 1992 series for Channel 4, ‘On The Edge’, which was based on his book ‘Improvisation – Its Nature And Practice In Music’ (1980). He recorded prolifically throughout his career, including shortly before his death ‘Carpal Tunnel’ – an album that charted his experience of relearning to play the guitar in the face of the syndrome which had begun to plague his playing.

This album contains no booklet.

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