Company - 1983 2xLP
Label: Honest Jon's
Wonderful, previously unreleased recordings by Derek Bailey and his guests at Company Week in 1983. What's remarkable throughout this album is the respect and affection the musicians show for each other, exemplifying the dictionary definition of "company" as "the fact or condition of being with another or others, especially in a way that provides friendship and enjoyment." It starts with "Landslide," a brilliant, spiky, spluttering, twanging reunion of Music Improvisation Company members Evan Parker (tenor sax), Hugh Davies (electronics), and Jamie Muir (percussion). Next up, "Seconde Choix," with Joëlle Léandre's close-miked prepared bass and Bailey's acoustic guitar seemingly heading in different directions before coming together miraculously in just four minutes. The opening of "First Choice," a duet between Bailey and Muir, is a revelation for those who moan that the guitarist plays too many notes. His patient and truly exquisite exploration of harmonics is beautifully counterpointed by Muir's metallic percussion. On "Pile Ou Face" (Heads Or Tails) Davies concentrates on his high register oscillators, carefully shadowed by Parker's soprano until Léandre's deft, springy pizzicato lures them into the playground. "JD In Paradise" is a surprisingly delicate wind quartet, with John Corbett's trumpet, fragile and Don Cherry-like, punctuating the sinuous interplay between Peter Brötzmann and J.D. Parran (on sopranos, flutes and clarinet), while trombonist Vinko Globokar growls approvingly in the background.
Igor Stravinsky's magnificent definition of music as the jeu de notes comes to mind listening to Bailey's duet with cellist Ernst Reijseger (executing fiendish double-stopped harmonics with staggering ease). Technical virtuosity has never sounded so effortless – it is, as its title "Een Plezierig Stukje" simply states, a fun piece. On the closing "La Horda," Bailey and Reijseger team up with the horns for what on paper looks like it could be rough and rowdy sextet but which turns out once more to be a thoughtful, spacious exchange of ideas, shapes, and colors.