Derek Bailey (29 January 1930 – 25 December 2005)
"Studying D.B." I really did spend quite some time studying Derek Bailey's music couple decades ago. I came back to it regularly as well, maybe as much and as regularly (or as seriously) as I did with Freddie Green. I never really quite got what "free improvised music" means in fact. Coming from early jazz (swing, early bop, blues and all possible sub genres from Voot to Cool), all was always strictly free. Sometime Combos, often Big Bands, the famous Nat Cole Trio without drums that Derek liked so much. In fact I really remember him repeating he always wanted to be part of Nat Cole or Oscar Peterson Trios, though he seemed quite unheard.
I first discovered Derek because in most 80's Jazz Guitar books he had his entrance, often with a very exciting and intriguing picture. By that time it was barely impossible to find records. Incus (his formal Label), was not much distributed. The Celluloid years had left "Yankees", a trio with John Zorn and George Lewis that had an incredibly appealing cover but the music was still too abstract or awkward for me at the time. On the Champs Elysées was an incredible record store (Lido Musique), where Marcel Romano (a legend, the man who literally made happen Miles Davis soundtrack "Ascenseur pour l'Echafaud", and many more, like Barney Wilen soundtracks with Blakey, Monk etc.). I use to go there, he hardly talk, but would alway put you in the hand albums that you had to take because he knew before you ever would. He found me with Company 4 on Incus, an incredible duet from Derek and Steve Lacy, that is still probably one of my very top favorite Derek Album. It was a cross over for, the perfect bridge.
There's many types of free music, from its original late 60's liberation blow to earlier attempt of Ornette, Ayler and Coltrane or Cecil, the 70's U.K. incredible scene or the Deutsch one, the German and Japanese one, etc. Each is very different in fact and worked I guess to experiment pretty different areas of "music without scores". But to me this idea of freedom was never really a point, when not a social political point, a moment in various histories and countries. I needed more, I needed material to feel what was this liberation about. You can be totally taken by Albert Ayler, but I really don't know what you can learn or study from his cry. Cecil always had an instrumental approach, so Derek was to me strongly, and for our instrument, the guitar.
Derek was deeply rooted in early jazz guitar, the pre-bop playing, all the amazing players that tried and did an incredible lot for the instrument until Charlie Christian came and somewhere stated that Guitarists could free themselves from comping and being a percussive melodic-harmonic element from the rhythm section (between a hi-hat and a bass slap). So did I much later but listening to the same players (Dick McDonough, Carl Kress, Slim Gaillard, Freddie Green, Eddie Durham, Lonnie Johnson, George Barnes, T. Bone Walker, Bernard Addison, John Collins, Oscar Moore, Oscar Aleman, etc.). This link was very natural to me, this is how I heard Derek in fact, as a modern early jazz guitarist, first.
I said "Studying" on this album, maybe its rather trying out, understanding, mapping out, or just not forgetting. Its as far as it possibly can be from copying, parodying or making a rumble alike. Derek's playing always was an incredibly intense process for me. Literally about Playing and not (never) reproducing). I think I've listened close to 98% of his albums and I really never heard twice the same. He was like a Russian chess player, someone conscious of his condition, someone opening new roads for all, even most would be unaware for long. Let's Continue.
Noël Akchoté. French guitarist, violinist and producer, born December 7, 1968, in Paris, active in various experimental fields between drone, rock, jazz and contemporary classical music. Also music journalist and author as well as founder (together with Quentin Rollet) of the French avantgarde label Rectangle. Currently running the label Noël Akchoté Downloads. He is the brother of electronic musician SebastiAn.
I Johann Sebastian BACH
II Johann Sebastian BACH
III Derek Bailey