Friday 2 March 2018, 7.30pm
Confront Recordings celebrate the release of the double cd set DEREK BAILEY AND COMPANY - KLINKER with a three tiered evening at Cafe OTO showcasing the diverse activities of the much missed British guitar legend.
Rhodri Davies : harp
Simon H. Fell : double bass
Mark Wastell : violoncello / cymbal
Alex Ward : guitar / clarinet
This concert is respectfully dedicated to Derek Bailey (1930-2005) and Will Gaines (1928-2014).
Composition No. 10: Five Pieces for Guitar (1965-66)*
Composition Nos. 18-20: Three Pieces for Guitar (1966-67)*
Composition No. 23: Bits (1967)*
*performed by Alex Ward (guitar)
With Apologies to G. Brecht (date unknown)**
**performed by Rhodri Davies (harp), Simon H. Fell (double bass), Alex Ward (clarinet), Mark Wastell (cymbal)
This concert marks the London premiere of Derek’s solo guitar compositions and the world premiere of With Apologies to G. Brecht, a Fluxus-influenced theatre piece conceived sometime in the late 1960’s.
In the course of three sets of pieces for solo guitar, Derek Bailey leaves behind his early influences and gradually incorporates a language which directly reflects the discoveries he was making through improvisation. (Bailey’s own recordings of these pieces generally include extemporised interjections, although these are not specified in the score; this option has been retained for this performance.)
No. 10 [Five Pieces for Guitar] 10’ (c. 1966-67)
The No. 10 pieces are generally Webernian in scale, but with a surprising lushness of harmony, and sporadic references to the guitar’s flamenco heritage. (This is perhaps the nearest Bailey comes to writing ‘repertoire’ guitar pieces.)
Nos. 18-20 [Three Pieces for Guitar] 6’ (1967)
In the 18-20 set Bailey’s compositional language has hardened into a more acerbic serialism, and these pieces have a harmonic tautness which gives them something of the intensity that Bailey admired in Webern. Bailey was now starting to lose interest in playing these pieces ‘straight’; by 1967 he was usually using such compositions as starting points for improvisations. (Nevertheless, his fair copy of the 18-20 score presents a self-contained composed suite, without improvisation.)
No. 23 [Bits] 4’ (c. 1967)
By No. 23 Bailey’s scores are tending to become sequences of notated gestures, each of which may provide raw material for extemporised development, rather than a fixed work in themselves. However, this is not to suggest that his interest in abstract structural questions had receded; although the score of No. 23 is not strictly serial, it uses several varied repetitions of an extended tone row, with the third of its three sections being a (slightly modified) retrograde of the opening section.
With Apologies To G. Brecht [first performance] (prob. mid-1960s)
This cryptic text score has an explicit relation to the work of George Brecht; during the late 1960s Bailey had played Brecht pieces with Gavin Bryars, John Tilbury, Evan Parker and others in the ‘Instelimp’ group, which preceded the Music Improvisation Company. (Bailey may also have had personal contact with Brecht, who lived in London from 1968 to 1971.) Whether Bailey’s piece is influenced by Fluxus or represents a reaction against the movement is a matter of debate; like many Fluxus scores the text is non-specific, and requires considerable input from the realising musician(s) – although it is also possible that the score that survives is actually incomplete. For this first performance Simon Fell has prepared a version which reflects the growing exclusiveness of Bailey’s commitment to improvisation at the end of the 60s.
Sound 323, London - 15th September 2001*
Electric Cinema, Birmingham - 12th April 2002*
*filmed and recorded by David Reid
Never screened in public before, these videos offer highlights of two solo guitar concerts given by Derek just seven months apart; one featuring acoustic guitar, the other electric.. Sound 323 was Mark Wastell’s record shop on the Archway Road and Derek performed there in the basement concert space twice, firstly in a duo with Simon H. Fell on the 15th August 2001 and returning exactly a month later to play solo. Known for close interaction with his audience, the Birmingham concert also features Derek in a playful question and answer session.
A virtual Company performance from IST together with pre-recorded fragments of Derek Bailey and Will Gaines.
IST’s Virtual Company calls on ‘the powers of improvisation’ (D. Bailey) to interface the three musicians of IST with dozens of musical fragments drawn from both Bailey and Gaines performing solo. These are combined with sections of silence of unforeseeable length, and then combined with each other and the live musicians, all by means of random algorithms which will ensure that each performance will be both unpredictable and unrepeatable.
IST, Derek and Will performed together regularly in the later half of the 1990’s and early 2000’s - Derek curated various Company events in London, Marseille and New York which sometimes featured this group exclusively and, on occasions, other musicians. The quintet concerts from Marseille in 1999, although performed under the short-lived group name cavanoconner, were eventually released as a double cd on Incus, Company In Marseille (Incus 44/45). To add to this crucial document, Confront Recordings are very happy to finally make available DEREK BAILEY AND COMPANY - KLINKER, another double cd set, recorded on a hot and steamy night in August 2000 at The Klinker in London and features the quartet of Bailey, Gaines, Fell and Wastell.
IST formed in 1995 at the suggestion of Simon H. Fell, who had previously met and played with Rhodri Davies and Mark Wastell independently of one another. Activities and performances have included numerous UK club dates, a UK Arts Council Tour in 1998, S4C Television, London's Barbican, New York's Tonic, the Total Music Meeting in Berlin, Contemporaneamente 2002 (Italy), London's Freedom of the City Festival and Confront Recordings 20th Anniversary Festival. They have release seven albums to date. "Truly a seminal improvising group. This trio was the perfect setting for the three to develop their strategies to micro-gestured improvisation. It is their intensified approach to collective listening and interaction that elevates this beyond the astonishing display of extended techniques.” (Michael Rosenstein SIGNAL TO NOISE)
Will Gaines was an American “hoofer”, born in Baltimore in 1928, who began his professional career as a dancer in 1948. In the 1950’s he moved to New York and worked with Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Sarah Vaughan, Cab Calloway, Lionel Hampton, Ella Fitzgerald, Thelonious Monk and Eric Dolphy . A booking at the London Palladium in 1963 brought him to the UK, where he stayed and never returned to the States. He met Derek Bailey in the middle sixties and worked on and off with him for the next four decades. In the later years Derek would often remark that Will was the only person left that he played with that was older than him!
Derek Bailey was one of the most influential and adventurous experimental guitarists to come from England (Sheffield), evolving out of the trad-jazz scene of the fifties into the avant/jazz scene in '60s London. By the late sixties he was a member of the Joseph Holbrooke Trio, Spontaneous Music Ensemble and Music Improvisation Company which later became the amorphous Company under his leadership. These groups were at the birth and center of the British free-jazz scene. In the early seventies, Derek Bailey and Evan Parker started their own record label called Incus Records - one of the first artist-run labels.
Although Derek played with members of the British free/jazz scene, he also forged relationships with a number of European players like Han Bennink & Peter Brötzmann, Japanese free players like Abe Kaoru, Toshinori Kondo, as well as American improvisers like Anthony Braxton, George Lewis and John Zorn to name a few.
Derek organized an annual festival called Company Week in the 80's & 90's, which brought together a unique group of international improvisers from varied backgrounds.
"He was a man who repelled pretension, refused to be shoehorned into comfortable categories, and played amazing guitar." - John Butcher
"I do not subscribe to the idea that free improvisation began or ends with any individual. This only suggests that somehow the music Derek made was so individualistic that it failed to communicate anything beyond personal expression." - Eddie Prevost
Alex Ward is a composer, improviser, and performing musician, working primarily with clarinet and guitar. His involvement in freely improvised music dates back to 1986, when he met the guitarist Derek Bailey. He subsequently took part regularly in Bailey's Company events, and has gone on to become a major figure in British improvised music.
His current work ranges from the duo Dead Days Beyond Help, in which he plays guitar and sings, his group Predicate who perform his compositions, regular improvising groups with Steve Noble, Kay Grant and others, as well as more ad hoc encounters with musicians as diverse as Thurston Moore, Joe Morris and Duck Baker. He brings a unique energy and inventiveness to all these projects, elevating them far above the ordinary and injecting them with a thrilling sense of danger and possibility.
"...guitarist Alex Ward [is] a compulsively creative polymath of indiscriminately omnivorous appetite ... a reliably unpredictable axe-hero for collaborators of all backgrounds." Stewart Lee, The Sunday Times Review