Derek Bailey / Anthony Braxton

Moment Précieux

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This is a reunion of sorts, considering Anthony Braxton and Derek Bailey teamed for a series of duets in London during the '70s. Putting these two giants of improvised music together then and now seems a natural, but as is the case with their earlier efforts, this 1986 recording is a bit disappointing. Taken from a concert at Quebec's avant-garde Festival Musique Actuelle, Moment Precieux finds the two irascible soloists alternating between near silence and furious outbursts on the extended exploration "The Victoria and Albertville, Parts 1 & 2." Braxton is his usual serpentine and grating self on alto and soprano, while Bailey takes a minimalist and spiky approach on guitar, full of thrashing chords and chilling harmonics. Save for a few enlightened moments during the calmer passages, though, the two soloists hardly connect, opting instead to pursue singular roads of expression; unfortunately, when the two do come together, it sounds more obligatory than sympathetic. Maybe this is a result of a divide between the American jazz side of free improvisation (Braxton) and Europe's more wide-ranging take on the form (Bailey). Who knows. Intriguing solo moments aside, this is not a record to get if you are expecting an exciting collaboration between these two. For better duet records, check out Braxton and pianist Marilyn Crispell's Vancouver Duets (1989) or Bailey and saxophonist Evan Parker's Compatibles.

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