Derek Bailey

Soho Suites

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This double-CD collection is meant to show a continuum of sorts in a collaboration that began in 1963. Guitarist Derek Bailey and drummer Tony Oxley met by chance in their hometown at that time, and formed a band with Gavin Bryars (a bass player back in those days) for the purpose of freely improvising music. Bailey and Oxley played together in various contexts and continue to this day. Featured here is a rehearsal from 1977 on one disc, along with a live disc recorded in New York in 1995. To play these CDs in sequence is quite remarkable. For those who have followed the careers of both men over the decades, it will be astonishing to hear what has been taken for granted in the development not only of their individual styles and approaches to improvisation, but in the actual evolution of those methods as they reach deeper into the musical muck for a kind of meaning that can only be generated in this type of musical pursuit. On the earlier record, there are Bailey's very short but very quick explosions of notes from all over the fretboard that get interrupted by his going into the instrument itself. Oxley, a busy drummer, uses percussion instruments while playing the kit, making sure he misses none of the notes Bailey drops from his guitar like small bombs. On the later music from 1995, there is a shift in focus. The explorations of tonal boundaries are much more pronounced, percussive extensions become common, and there is almost an architecture in the dynamic. Bailey has moved to using more chords of his own design, while Oxley keeps to the kit more, exploring its wood and metal as a manner of underscoring these spacious, textured explorations. This is an awesome set, so strong it's better than 90 percent of what's out there passing for free improvisation. Just get it.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
feat: Tony Oxley
22:08
2
feat: Tony Oxley
2:53
3
feat: Tony Oxley
3:20
4
feat: Tony Oxley
17:21

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
feat: Tony Oxley
17:59
2
feat: Tony Oxley
12:34
3
feat: Tony Oxley
4:01
4
feat: Tony Oxley
3:59
5
feat: Tony Oxley
16:44
6
feat: Tony Oxley
4:06
blue highlight denotes track pick