"Derek Bailey’s guests for Company Week at London’s ICA in July 1982 were contemporary classical pianist Ursula Oppens, folk/jazz singer-turned-improviser Julie Tippetts and her partner pianist Keith Tippett, violinist/electronics wizard Philipp Wachsmann, guitarist Fred Frith, trombonist George Lewis, harpist Anne LeBaron, and from Japan free jazz bassist Motoharu Yoshizawa and sound artist Akio Suzuki.
Altogether they performed the stunning extended improvisation Epiphany.
In different, more intimate lineups they detonated numerous Epiphanies.
Here, to start, Yoshizawa and Oppens (both on the keyboard and inside her piano) bounce ideas off each other like ping-pong balls.
Then Tippetts, Wachsmann and Bailey do extraterrestrial cubist flamenco; and Lewis and Frith rumble at everyone magnificently.
Tippett and Oppens kaleidoscope the entire history of the piano into just over fifteen minutes (Fourth and Fifth) with added seasoning from LeBaron and Wachsmann.
To close, Akio Suzuki — despite once describing himself as “pursuing listening as a practice” — makes one hell of a racket with his self-made instruments: a flute, a spring gong and his analapos (two single-lidded cylinders attached by a long steel coil, which he can manipulate and strike, besides vocalising into the tube). Yoshizawa and Bailey give him a real run for his money, and it all builds to an ecstatic, swirling, grinding climax, with Suzuki whooping and hollering wildly."
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