Derek Bailey & Han Bennink – Han

"During March 1986, Han Bennink and I played a short tour of England - eight concerts in seven days. Of the many times we have played together over the past twenty years or so, this was probably my favourite bout. For of these concerts were recorded and this disc is a compilation of five excerpts from these concerts. There is no attempt to disguise the edits but the music is presented as two continuous pieces - the way we usually played each concert." - Derek Bailey. 



Melancholy Babes, part 1 - 26:09

Melancholy Babes, part 2 - 30:25


Melancholy Babes, part 1 consists of three recordings made by members of the audience at three concerts; by Eddie Klak at Essex University, by Chris Atton at The Carmarthen, Leeds and by Michael Gerson at Soho Poly Theatre, London. At Incus, we feel that the techincal variability which is unavoidable side-effect of this method is more than compensated by their acheivement, unusual in recordings of this kind of music, in capturing something of the atmosphere of what went on. We hope you think so too. Melancholy Babes, part 2 was recorded by Michael Gerson at Bethnal Green Music Library, London, in a more orthodox manner. All the recordings were made between 15-22 March, 1986. 


Post Production: Michael Gerson and John Haddon

Cover Drawing: Anthony Monstrom

Design: Karen Brookman 


Available as 320k MP3 or 16bit FLAC 

"(I can hear the opening bars of HAN in my head now as I write…) It took about 12 minutes to draw (ink) the image of the hands sawing the telephone pole; somewhere along the way I’d already once heard Derek talking about “digging holes for the phone company” as a young man, so that was in my head at the time. I’m glad to see the drawing still living on, floating around online, of course. I always thought it matched the music and sometimes wondered if other people agreed with that… I’d like to mention that the Derek-Han duo constitutes one of my all-time favorite “bands,” if you could call it a “band." Such anarchic, high-energy, splintery fun!" - Tony Monstrom (cover artist) 

Derek Bailey

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 

Han Bennink

Drummer and multi-instrumentalist Han Bennink was born in Zaandam near Amsterdam in 1942. His first percussion instrument was a kitchen chair. Later his father, an orchestra percussionist, supplied him with a more conventional outfit, but Han never lost his taste for coaxing sounds from unlikely objects he finds backstage at concerts. He is still very fond of playing chairs.

In Holland in the 1960s, Bennink was quickly recognized as an uncommonly versatile drummer. As a hard swinger in the tradition of his hero Kenny Clarke, he accompanied touring American jazz stars, including Sonny Rollins, Ben Webster, Wes Montgomery, Johnny Griffin, Eric Dolphy and Dexter Gordon. He is heard with Gordon on the 1969 album "Live at Amsterdam Paradiso" (on the Affinity label) and with Dolphy on 1964s "Last Date" (PolyGram). At the same time, Bennink participated in the creation of a European improvised music which began to evolve a new identity, apart from its jazz roots. With fellow Dutch pioneers, pianist Misha Mengelberg and saxophonist Willem Breuker, he founded the musicians collective Instant Composers Pool in 1967. Bennink anchored various bands led by Mengelberg or Breuker, and appeared in their comic music-theater productions.

Bennink attended art school in the 1960s, and is also a successful visual artist in several media, often constructing sculpture from found objects, which may include broken drum heads and sticks. He has designed the covers for many LPs and CDs on which he appears. Bennink is represented by Amsterdam's Galerie Espace, and has been the subject of several one-man shows, including one at the Gemeente Museum in the Hague in 1995... [more]