"Previously unreleased recordings by various lineups drawn from Derek Bailey, Tristan Honsinger, Christine Jeffrey, Toshinori Kondo, Charlie Morrow, David Toop, Maarten Altena, Georgie Born, Lindsay Cooper, Steve Lacy, Radu Malfatti and Jamie Muir.
Journalists often make the brief history of Free Improvisation conform to the idea that the history of music is a nice straight line from past to present: Beethoven… Brahms… Boulez. Thus Derek Bailey, Evan Parker and John Stevens — together with Brötzmann and co across the Channel — were the trailblazing ‘first generation’, forging a wholly new language alongside contemporary avant-garde and free jazz. Figures like Toshinori Kondo and David Toop, willing as they were to incorporate snippets of all kinds of music, were the pesky ‘second generation’, happily cocking a snook at the ‘ideological purity’ of Bailey’s non-idiomatic improvisation.
‘Company 1981’ shows up the foolishness — the wrongness — of such storylines. Check the eclectic collection of guests Bailey invited to Company Weeks over the years. He had clear ideas about the music, but he was no ideological purist.
One of the founders of Fluxus, Charlie Morrow injects blasts of Cageian fun into half the recordings here, whether blurting military fanfares from his trumpet, or intoning far-flung scraps of speech. Cellist Tristan Honsinger and vocalist Christine Jeffrey join in the joyful glossolalia, while Bailey, Toop and Kondo contribute delicious, delicate, hooligan arabesques, by turns.
The remainder are performed by a different ensemble: Bailey, bassist Maarten Altena, former Henry Cow members Georgie Born and Lindsay Cooper on cello and bassoon, the insanely inventive Jamie Muir on percussion, and trombonist Radu Malfatti, showing his mastery of extended technique. Were that not enough, there’s the inimitable purity of Steve Lacy’s soprano ringing high and clear above the melee. Glorious!
There’s always been this idea that Free Improvisation is somehow Difficult Listening, but when the doors of perception are thrown open and prejudice cast aside, you realise that it’s not difficult at all. “Is it that easy?” chirps Morrow, at one point. Indeed it is.
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.