Derek Bailey

Right Off

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Carlos Bechegas wears a microphone in front of his nose, dangling from his forehead. This is not a fashion statement, but a way to capture the sound of his flute, translate it to MIDI data, and send it to a computer for real-time processing. After a delightful album where he used his set-up in free improvisation with bassist Peter Kowald, here comes a session with guitarist Derek Bailey, recorded in a Portuguese studio in July 2001. It must be impossible to catch Bailey on a bad day. His playing here is up to his standard, witty, challenging, open-minded, and generous. The fact that he doesn't transcend his own art leaves room to listen to the lesser known variable in this equation. Bechegas likes to alternate long slow phrases with short quick ones. Paradoxically, his playing sounds more original when the flute is up front; when we clearly hear his inflections and breathing effects. Whenever the electronics take center stage the music becomes somehow more predictable. "R. In" strikes the perfect balance: Bechegas circumvolutes around Bailey's electric guitar with the computer adding menacing low-end growls. In "R. On" on the other hand, it could be any computer wiz dueting with the Englishman. The flute has a hard time being accepted in free improv circles -- for reasons not fully understood, but which probably have to do with its heavy "classical" historical baggage. Bechegas thrives to find new state-of-the-art ways to make it "fit in," but in the end his acoustic playing remains his best argument.

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