From the jaws of obscurity, this compact disc reissues two LPs of rather elegant -- if chaotic -- distinction. Those two discs, Company 6 and Company 7, were recorded in seven days during "Company Week" in 1977, under Derek Bailey's loose tutelage and leadership. Hearing them both together now, in one sitting, is an overwhelming and even overbearing experience. Each of the selections on the CD represents a particular grouping of musicians involved. The titles reflect the initials of the particular players; for instance, "LS/TH/AB/SL/MR" is Leo Smith, Tristan Honsinger, Anthony Braxton, Steve Lacy, and Maarten van Regteren Altena (thankfully, he's shortened his name since then!). Other players involved are Bailey (of course), Steve Beresford, Han Bennink (isn't he on every record of this type?), Evan Parker (him too?), and Lol Coxhill. Perhaps the most beautiful of the improvisations collected here is "HB/AB/DB," because there is less an attempt to make music as to engage in the creation of sound. Braxton plays flutes as well as saxophones, and Bailey engages in his cluster-tone approach, moving pitch with some foreign object along the fretboard as Bennink keeps everyone and everything busy with his scattershot drumming, ricocheting brushwork, shimmering hand-rubbed skin vibes, and other sundry elements that may or may not have been designed for percussive use. The point is that the trio (along with the magnetically taped sounds of birdsongs piped in) locks together in a manner suggesting not only communication but integration: The guitar and flutes are from one and the same sound source and Bennink offers proof of the organic nature of it all by never stopping for a moment, commenting on and magnetically drawing everything to him. The rest of the program works or doesn't depending on your own definition. The immediacy on display here is commonplace now, but wasn't in 1977. Players didn't just fall together to make records. The conventional thinking at the time, even for improvised groups, was to play together for long enough to develop a group music. Bailey rejected this out of hand, given how concerned he was with getting all of the sounds out of a guitar he could. Bailey put together these outings for the sake of the happenstance, the moment, the breath of fresh air that exhales when a group this size is put together. It's wonderful to have these records back in print again; they sound as fresh today as they did in the last century.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek