Derek Bailey

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Derek Bailey

Postby Cuimean » Wed Jan 04, 2006 4:05 am


Influential Guitarist Derek Bailey Dead at 75

Zach Vowell and Amy Phillips report:
Always below the radar and ever ahead of the curve, British improvisatory guitarist Derek Bailey died on Christmas day from complications due to a motor neuron disease. He was 75.

Bailey was a pioneer in his explorations of unconventional guitar methods and sounds, releasing hundreds of recordings and collaborating with scores of musicians of every stripe, from Cecil Taylor to Pat Metheney to Ruins. He continued right up until his death, forging a formidable discography of guitar work devoted to what he called "nonidiomatic improvising".

After working as a conventional jazz session man in the 1950s, Bailey formed the free jazz group the Joseph Holbrooke Trio with drummer Tony Oxley and bassist Gavin Bryars in the mid-1960s. Throughout that decade, Bailey collaborated with musicians like Evan Parker, Dave Holland, and John Stevens, in collectives such as the Spontaneous Music Ensemble and the Music Improvisation Company.

In 1970, Bailey, Oxley, and Parker founded what many refer to as the first British independent, musician-operated record label, Incus Records. The label based its business model on funneling most of its revenue back to the artists who made the albums (without any Tony Wilson-style dramatics). Incus continues to operate to this day, with over 100 recordings (most of them out of print) to its credit. John Zorn, Jim O'Rourke, Eugene Chadborne, Fred Frith, Anthony Braxton, Keiji Haino, Susie Ibarra, and countless other stars of the experimental music universe have all recorded for the label.

In 1976, Bailey initiated the ever-evolving Company festival, which featured hundreds of players from a variety of disciplines, and took place annually at locations all over the world until 2002. In 1980, he published the landmark book Improvisation: Its Nature and Practice in Music, which examined the improvisatory tradition throughout musical history.

Bailey developed carpal tunnel syndrome in his last years, but continued to play guitar right up until his death. In fact, in 2005, he he released a solo album on John Zorn's Tzadik label titled Carpal Tunnel, wherein he explored methods of playing around his illness.

A fitting epitaph for Bailey was recently given to LA Weekly by guitarist Nels Cline (Wilco, Geraldine Fibbers). Cline said, "He was one of the most important sonic innovators on any instrument in the last 50 years. When I saw him last year in Barcelona, I thanked him for being such a courageous and tenacious seeker, and for making it possible for cowards like me to benefit."
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Postby nwilkins » Wed Jan 04, 2006 12:18 pm

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Postby Jono » Wed Jan 04, 2006 2:15 pm

They may be drinkers, Robin, but they're still human beings.
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