Joseph Holbrooke Trio

Joseph Holbrooke '98

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The trio of Derek Bailey, Gavin Bryars, and Tony Oxley, collectively known as Joseph Holbrooke, was one of the first freely improvising groups in England in the '60s, but at the time of this performance, they hadn't performed together in 32 years. While Bailey and Oxley remained by and large true to the free improv aesthetic, Bryars abandoned improvisation and forged his own initially compelling compositional path before settling into a gauzy romanticism from the mid-'80s on. It's therefore especially heartening to hear how well the bassist responds to this reunion concert, fitting in perfectly well with the non-idiomatic playing so strongly favored by his companions. Though the program is short, the pieces feel expansive, unhurried, and serene, like a relaxed conversation between old friends. Oxley's unique coloristic approach is well-suited for this sort of interplay, matching and answering the plucks and swells that Bailey has developed into a working vocabulary. Bailey himself demonstrates his extraordinary listening ability, offering split-second retorts and commentaries on the others' playing, always questioning and probing. A fine recording from three masters and one that any fan of free improv would be happy to own.

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