Derek Bailey and the Story of Free Improvisation

Derek Bailey and the Story of Free Improvisation This outstanding biography of the cult guitar player will likely cause you to abandon everything you thought you knew about jazz improvisation post punk and the avant garde Derek Bailey was at the to

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  • Title: Derek Bailey and the Story of Free Improvisation
  • Author: Ben Watson
  • ISBN: 9781844670031
  • Page: 429
  • Format: Hardcover
  • This outstanding biography of the cult guitar player will likely cause you to abandon everything you thought you knew about jazz improvisation, post punk and the avant garde Derek Bailey was at the top of his profession as a dance band and record session guitarist when, in the early 1960s, he began playing an uncompromisingly abstract form of music Today his anti idiom oThis outstanding biography of the cult guitar player will likely cause you to abandon everything you thought you knew about jazz improvisation, post punk and the avant garde Derek Bailey was at the top of his profession as a dance band and record session guitarist when, in the early 1960s, he began playing an uncompromisingly abstract form of music Today his anti idiom of Free Improvisation has become the lingua franca of the avant scene, with Pat Metheny, John Zorn, David Sylvian and Sonic Youth s Thurston Moore among his admirers.

    One thought on “Derek Bailey and the Story of Free Improvisation”

    1. It is such a pity that Watson was far more concerned with his political views and personal story than with writing a convincing and comprehensive account of the life and music of the wonderful guitarist Derek Bailey. There was no attempt to interview musicians such as Evan Parker or Barry Guy who played with Bailey for many years, at crucial periods in his development as a player ( a term he always liked). Also his wives barely exist; we learn far more about Watson's tedious teenage crush on an [...]

    2. The first half of the book was brilliant. Charting Bailey's development into a revolutionary of music almost entirely through interview transcripts rather than narrative. Bailey is a cantankerous, working class british curmudgeon (read: HILARIOUS), and letting him speak for himself is brilliant. Somewhere about half way through the book it switched to reviews of material and shows. Although Watson did a good job of it, and even defended this shift adequately, it still lost steam and therefore in [...]

    3. The weird guy who wrote this bk is obsessed w/Frank Zappa and Marxist theory. He somehow manages to fit many references to both into a book about Derek Bailey and the story of free improv. The Zappa in particular is not at all germane to the subject matter. But at least it only shows up every other page. He gives us very interesting biographical info about Bailey up until roughly his early 20s, and then pretty much abandons it. There's no real biographical detail about the rest of Bailey's life [...]

    4. This is a deeply flawed book. Ben Watson apparently spent a lot of time interviewing Derek Bailey, but seems to have decided that he didn't also need to talk much with other key figures in the Free Improvising scene. The result is extremely uneven. The early sections about Bailey's early life are good, but once the book gets into the rise and development of free improvisation, not so much. Watson covers much of Bailey's later career only by including reviews of performances.By not seeking out eq [...]

    5. As others have noted, there are 4 types of content in this book in order of readability:1. Long interviews with Derek Bailey himself, a lively chap with a mature perspective on music and improvisation that's both principled and practice-based;2. Quotes from Bailey's peers, curated by Watson to form an insightful if incomplete picture;3. A whole lot of concert and record reviews, which is after all Watson's bread and butter;4. Shoehorning of Marx and Zappa into each and every page of the goddamn [...]

    6. "As an Adornite" Some people are put off by Watson's unapologetic Marxist analysis, but his arguments are sophisticated and well worth engaging with. I'm less stringent in my approach, but Watson's critique of liberal arts discourse is highly pertinent. Certainly there are moments where my eyebrows were raised, but it's a stimulating read and often very funny. This isn't a straightforward biography, but the long interview with Bailey is a wonderful read, and while Watson's detailed accounts of B [...]

    7. Like most reviews of this book, I point out that there are two parts. The first part is a biography of Bailey, with lots of quotes. It is a wonderful read. Bailey's personality comes through and the book is delightful and very funny. The second half of the book is composed of concert reviews and was pretty boring. I ended up skimming portions of it. But who cares? The book is worth its purchase price just for the first biography part. Derek Bailey was an incredibly important figure in the develo [...]

    8. Wonderful and entertaining book on one of free improvisation's founding giants, some great interviews with the man himself as well as some interesting discussion fron Ben Watson on Bailey's life, early Joseph Holbrooke Trio and each of the Company Week gigs as well as Bailey's later solo ventures and countless collaborations. Overall Ben's writing provides an enjoyable and exhilarating ride through some of music's toughest terrain even if he does occasionally veer off into Trotskyist working cla [...]

    9. Derek Bailey deserves a better biography than this. The subject is compelling. The people he played with and the Company events that Bailey organized are fascinating. But the long tracts that passed for "analysis" did them no justice. By the end, it was only my curiosity about Bailey that kept me reading. Curiosity that was rewarded whenever there were direct quotes where the subject could speak for himself. I seriously doubt that Derek Bailey heard his own music through a prism of economic theo [...]

    10. I'm not sure that this book would be of much interest to anyone not already interested in the world of improvised music, but I found it really enjoyable. There were a few dead spots, for example the endless descriptions of approximately every piece from Company Week 1977-1994. Watson is very opinionated observer, who is likely to dismiss some very important contributors to the development on free improv, which can be annoying. He devotes little sub-chapters to various collaborators throughout th [...]

    11. Pretty generally acknowledged now (among the dozen or so musicians and critics I've talked to) as a controversial, rather personal assault on some key figures in the European free jazz scene -- polemical, with a lot of post-Marxist bloviating and very little analysis of what Bailey actually played or the scene he built or what it all means. And the second half is not much more than thinly-disguised rewrites of scene reports, much of which has nothing to do with Derek Bailey directly, but rather [...]

    12. Has some flashes of real insight into the purpose and value of free improvisation, but is marred by an uneven structure, some really terrible prose attempting to describing concerts and recordings, and continual references to Frank Zappa, whom the author's previous book was about, but who has absolutely nothing to do with Derek Bailey or free improvisation. The hilarious full transcript of Bailey's 1998 "Invisible Jukebox" in Appendix 3 is a strong closer for those wishing to remember him in all [...]

    13. Frustrating. The author seemed more interested in touting his own superiority for listening to Bailey than in developing an argument for Bailey's greatness. Picks up in the second half when Bailey's career found a stable platform (both in Company Weeks live settings and the label support of fan John Zorn), and Watson even allows himself to go into the music some more. Still, I sympathize with how hard it is to provide a textual summary of music at its most abstract and searching, but this still [...]

    14. "As it is, this is a book which should berequired reading for anyone interested not only inpostwar music, but in the contemporary possibilitiesand dilemmas of the avant-garde in general."- David Cunningham"Sanovat että Anna Karenina on pitkästyttävä kirja.Pitkä, minä sanon, ei pitkästyttävä."- Fantasmagorinen Töölön Mummo

    15. The author rambles on and on for about 300 pages about how Marx, Situationist theories and Free Improv have something to do with Derek Bailey without really making a point. The rest 140 pages are OK.Painful to read

    16. i read half of this over 2 days while riding trains with the owner of the book. mostly interviews with bailey and contemporaries. really interesting. nothing too offensive from watson so far. maybe more in the 2nd half of the book? i'm going to read the rest as soon as i can pick up another copy.

    17. Can get a little too focused on describing particular concerts and records, but a phenomenal look into the history of the free improv movement through the life of Derek Bailey.

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