Derek Bailey

Drop Me Off at 96th

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Hand Derek Bailey a superior quality acoustic guitar, turn on the tape recorder, and can anything go wrong? The cynically practical Mr. Bailey would no doubt have a long list, but those familiar with his many brilliant recorded works would probably not be interested in hearing about it. One could be buried under an avalanche of well-recorded and produced Bailey solo efforts of this sort, and probably still be interested in hearing yet another. The guitarist has a supreme gift for detail and development within a piece. His love for the art of improvising is well-evident on every track, whether it builds slowly and surely or kicks off frantically. During an amusing spoken interlude here, Bailey picks and plonks while hawking the wares of his self-owned recording company. This release is not one of them, by the way; it is a Scottish imprint. For the first half of the CD, Bailey is heard on an Epiphone from the '30s, a great-sounding guitar if there ever was one, with behind-the-bridge tones ringing out as if a small cathedral had been folded up and crammed into one of the f-holes. Then he switches to a Martin, with its unmistakably folky sound, bringing his music a little closer to the sound of fellow guitar picker John Fahey -- although not that close.

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