Music Reviews from the Staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House


March 12, 2015
More Improvised Music from Winter 2015
Three recordings have been receiving heavy rotation by the staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House. While these recordings were made in 2010, 1982 and 1976, they were commercially released in 2015, late 2014 and never at all, the last one being a live recording delivered by a friend of the PPPH who thought it would be appreciated (which it was, and then some)! Pertinent details are listed for each below, followed by a few comments.

  • Two City Blues 1 & 2 - Keiji Haino , Peter Brötzmann & Jim O'Rourke - (Trost Records, Austria, TR 126 & 128, recorded November 23, 2010, released 2015, lp & cd respectively for 1 & 2) link.
  • 28 Rue Dunois juillet 1982 - Derek Bailey, Joëlle Léandre, George Lewis and Evan Parker - (Fou Records, FR - CD 06, recorded 1982, released 2014, cd) link.
  • Maison de la Radio France, Studio 104, Paris, France from Oct 17, 1976 - Steve Lacy Quartet (Steve Lacy, Irene Aebi, Kent Carter, Noel McGhee) + Derek Bailey - (live recording only, no commercial release) link.

Steve Lacy Quartet + Derek Bailey
We begin our comments with the last recording listed, which adds Derek Bailey to the Steve Lacy Quartet. In this recording, the Steve Lacy Quartet plays Steve Lacy songs, beginning with a favorite, The Crust. The second track, Micro World, is not well represented in the Lacy discography and also receives a rather wonderful treatment here, beginning with an ominous melody complemented perfectly by Aebi's voice. A unique appeal of this recording is that, in contrast to many Bailey collaborations, there is no concession by the other musicians to Bailey. The quartet plays their material, melodic songs in this case, and Bailey is left to contribute as he sees fit. Thus, he contributes sparsely at times, a note here, a note there, but always aware of the prevailing melody, resulting in an surprising and uncommon result in the large Bailey oeuvre, which is pleasing to the ear and invites repeated listenings.

There are a variety of notes that have been written on the performance of the four musicians, who have in the 33 years since 1982 each ascended to the status of superheroes of non-idiomatic improvisation. (See the link above.) All we shall add here is that one expects a certain kind of music to emerge from a combination of Bailey/Léandre/Lewis/Parker. Upon listening to this music, one's expectations are largely met. Reading this, the initial impulse might be one of disappointment, since the music of non-idiomatic improvisation attracts those with an "an impatience with the gruesomely predictable". Still, the music possesses the ineffable qualities of free improvisation including some miraculous abilities at memory evasion. Each listening seems new, conveys the original energy and spontaneity. Consequently, the notes recorded on this cd have repeatedly echoed in the halls of the Poison Pie Publishing House during the first few months of 2015.

One can consider these two releases containing material from the same concert as a mixed media project, since volume one is released only on lp and volume two is released only on cd, although the business or aesthetic rationale behind this choice has not been revealed. Regardless, the music largely features Brötzmann as a soloist with Haino and O'Rourke playing supporting roles, although at moments the music coalesces into a trio. The releases are aptly titled because Haino and O'Rourke consciously attempt to inject blues-style guitar into the music, (at some points resorting to riffs that could even be called bluesy, in contrast to previous Haino efforts that he has identified as "blues" based, specifically the two Black Blues solo albums (on the now defunct Les Disques Du Soleil Et De L'Acier label and the two compelling Seijaku albums on doubt music, which he called "twentieth century" and "twenty-first century" blues, and which can be considered "blues" in at most a liberally abstract sense).