Music Reviews from the Staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House


December 28, 2017
Twelve Sides of Vinyl from Derek Bailey
Unexpectedly (at least to the staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House) three lps originally released in the 1970's and 1980's on the Incus label have been reissued, each with an additional lp containing unreleased material. We briefly discuss the reissues in this review.

All three reissues feature the British non-idiomatic improvisational guitarist, Derek Bailey (January 29, 1930 - December 25, 2005) either solo or in duos with the American saxophonist, Anthony Braxton (born June 4, 1945), and Dutch drummer, Han Bennink (born April 17, 1942). Of the twelve sides of music, seven have been previously released and five are previously unreleased. There is a special joy in unanticipated delights at year's end.

The three double-lp releases are published by the British label, Honest Jon's Records.

As a matter of coincidence, the on-going novel, serially published on a daily basis at the Poison Pie Publishing House, 2017: The Year of the Every-Day Magician, A Second-Hand Account of the Rise and Fall of the Renegades of the American Muslim Registry, has associated with each daily passage a piece of music, to which the author listened during the creative process. For the month of December, the author chose to listen to releases by Derek Bailey, with each day featuring a different collaborator or ensemble. (The particular details of each piece of music are noted after the passage.)


Solo Guitar Volume 1 - Derek Bailey
Label: Honest Jon's Records
Catalog #: HJRLP200
Country: United Kingdom
Release Date: December, 2017
Media: lpx2 entry
Sides A & B originally released on lp as INCUS 2 in 1971.
Side C originally released on cd (with sides A & B) on cd as INCUS CD10 in 1992.
Side D is previously unreleased live performance from February 24, 1972.

Derek Bailey redefined the way a guitar could be played. While undoubtedly a figure of the cultural margin, his artistry is appreciated and his influence is felt by many who dwell therein. His influence on the Poison Pie Publishing House, home to a literature of non-idiomatic improvisation, is manifested both in philosophy and technique.

With regards to approaches to the non-idiomatic improvisational creative process, we offer the following quote.

In so far as I listen with interest to a record, it’s usually to figure out how it was arrived at. The musical end product is where interest starts to flag. It’s a bit like jigsaw puzzles. Emptied out of the box, there’s a heap of pieces, all shapes, sizes and colours, in themselves attractive and could add up to anything--intriguing. Figuring out how to put them together can be interesting, but what you finish up with as often as not is a picture of unsurpassed banality. Music’s like that.
Derek Bailey
from Derek Bailey and the Story of Free Improvisation by Ben Watson, Verso, London, 2004, p. 440.

As for the philosophical influence, we offer the following quote.

My whole life story is really a strenuous attempt to push back this colossal ignorance I’ve always carried around with me.
Derek Bailey
from Derek Bailey and the Story of Free Improvisation by Ben Watson, Verso, London, 2004, p. 55.


Royal Volumes 1 & 2 - Derek Bailey & Anthony Braxton
Label: Honest Jon's Records
Catalog #: HJRLP201
Country: United Kingdom
Release Date: December, 2017
Media: lpx2 entry
Sides A & B (Volume 1) originally released on lp as INCUS 43 in 1984.
Sides C & D are previously unreleased, although the catalog number INCUS 44 was reserved for Volume 2.
Together, the constitute a concert played at the Royal Hotel, Luton, England on July 2, 1974.

Anthony Braxton is the equal of Derek Bailey on his influence on thinkers in the cultural margin. To while away the time, we offer the following quote from Anthony Braxton.

If we are ever to awaken to the realness of creativity as a life giving factor, then the seriousness of this subject must be re-examined from every viewpoint and context. For the most basic understanding of creativity perpetuated in this time zone seeks to accent the entertainment or spectical [sic] value of a given projection, rather than what that same projection might mean in its cosmic vibrational sense (as pertaining to either its mystical, spiritual or positive functional value. In other words, the present reality of western information dynamics is geared to focus more on the surface of a given focus, as opposed to 'what is most true' about that focus, and this phenomenon has come to profoundly distort our perception of everything - including creativity. The end result of this cultural attitude sheds light on the times we now live in, for, to many people, the meta-reality of a given creative projection is a subject not worthy of serious thought. And, as the progressional expansion of technology continues to reshape every aspect of our lives, this gradual unconcern about composite information (and/or philosophical content) that is now taking place in our culture will pose even greater complexities for generations to come. Every day the realness of creativity becomes less and less clear - and this is true on many different levels.
Anthony Braxton
from Tri-Axium Writings, Synthesis Music, 1985, 3 spiral-bound volumes, 1704 pages.


untitled - Derek Bailey & Han Bennink
Label: Honest Jon's Records
Catalog #: HJRLP202
Country: United Kingdom
Release Date: December, 2017
Media: lpx2 entry
Sides A & B originally released on lp as INCUS 43 in 1972.
Sides C & D are previously unreleased and are collected as three improvisations from September 11, 1973.

Han Bennink is the consummate accompanist, both following and leading. Nothing better demonstrates this dual role than the pair of Post Improvisation cds released on Incus in 1999. One of the cds contained solo playing by Bennink and the other solo playing by Bailey. Each sent their respective solo recordings via the post, allowing the other to complete the duet. The recordings on this reissue document their joyful collaboration more than a quarter of a century earlier.

Bennink commented on his role in the following interview excerpt.

Bennink: But I never had a band myself. There never was a Han Bennink Trio or Quartet. It was Misha [Mengelberg] and Han or Willem Breuker and Han Bennink.
JC: Do you think there ever will be?
Bennink: No, no. I like to carry on like it is.
JC: You're in the tradition of the rhythm section accompanists.
Bennink: Yeah, I like to keep it like that and try to play with everybody.
Han Bennink
from Extended Play: Sounding Off from John Cage to Dr.Funkenstein, John Corbett, 1994, Duke University Press.

(We note in passing that this interview took place decades before the first release of the Han Bennink Trio in 2009.)



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