Derek Bailey


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The two-part "Melancholy Babes" presented here is an edited series of duet concerts between Han Bennink and Derek Bailey recorded over a week in March 1986. Over the week four concerts were recorded, and from these Bailey edited together five excerpts as a representation of what transpired. The first part is compiled from a series of audience recordings, and the second from a more conventional source. According to the liner notes, no attempt was made to disguise the editing, though each selection flows uninterrupted as the music would be presented in a live setting. That admission aside, the hallmark of these concerts was their stunning clarity of vision, their razor-sharp wit and repartee, and the fluency of language between the two musicians. Bailey is of his nut most of the time here, digging deeper and deeper into Bennink's glorious assault. The chord voicings and elongated single-string lines he plays here are far from typical for Bailey, even in a live setting; they surround the rhythms that are literally propelled forth incessantly in varying dynamics and tempos. But Bailey doesn't just hang in with Bennink's inexhaustible energy -- he soars with it, coming to grips with a kind of power he knows he possesses but doesn't always have access to. No one does. When the music grows almost intolerably tense, Bennink will let loose with a howl or a yelp to bring the level back to merely superhuman. This is one of the finest recordings of free improvisation to be released in the latter half of the 20th century.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
feat: Han Bennink
feat: Han Bennink
blue highlight denotes track pick