Sunday, December 25, 2005

rip derek bailey 1/29/30 - 12/25/05

Derek Bailey is dead. Long live Derek Bailey.

Word hasn't gotten out about how, but Bailey passed away today in Barcelona, Spain, his adopted home during the past few years. Bailey passed away in London this morning from his battle with motor neuron disease, according to an email from Martin Davidson. Quite hard to put into words short of a book about all he has done/meant/stood for, especially when Bailey didn't even speak the same language as any of us -- just created his own. Since the early 60s he nearly created a wholly singular take, and possibly the root, of improv music and thought. All the flows, ebbs, and electrifiers that keep the heart pumping/body breathing somehow was condensed in Bailey's fingers and let free to pour from his guitar. The one time I saw him, a few years ago in Chicago, he easily heaved gigantic sheets of beauty/noise through his amps, just mile lengths of glass panes shattering and being pieced together again with his every-other to every-thirtieth melodic notes. He looked at ease, smug, dead-on foucsed throughout the set. Once I return from a small holiday will do another post with some early Bailey material. Aida of course, being one all should hear.

Surely in the next day or so more information on Bailey's passing will be posted at his Incus Records, Emanem, or the European Free Improvisation Pages. Here is good bit from All Music Guide, in case you didn't know:

At first glance, Derek Bailey possesses almost none of the qualities one expects from a jazz musician -- his music does not swing in any appreciable way, it lacks a discernible sense of blues feeling -- yet there's a strong connection between his amelodic, arhythmic, atonal, uncategorizable free-improvisatory style, and much free jazz of the post-Coltrane era. His music draws upon a vast array of resources, including indeterminacy, rock & roll, and various world musics. Indeed, this catholic acceptance of any and all musical influences is arguably what sets Bailey's art outside the strict bounds of "jazz." The essential element of his work, however, is the type of spontaneous musical interrelation that evolved from the '60s jazz avant-garde. Sound, not ideology, is Bailey's medium. He differs in approach to almost any other guitarist who preceded him. Bailey uses the guitar as a sound-making, rather than a "music"-making, device. Meaning, he rarely plays melodies or harmonies in a conventional sense, but instead pulls out of his instrument every conceivable type of sound using every imaginable technique. His timbral range is quite broad. On electric guitar, Bailey is capable of the most gratingly harsh, distortion-laden heavy-metalisms; unamplified, he's as likely to mimic a set of windchimes. Bailey's guitar is much like John Cage's prepared piano; both innovations enhanced the respective instrument's percussive possibilities. As a group player, Bailey is an exquisitely sensitive respondent to what goes on around him. He has the sort of quick reflexes and complementary character that can meld random musical events into a unified whole. Read the full bio by Chris Kelsey here.

Derek Bailey - Carpal Tunnel After 3 Weeks (2005)
Derek Bailey - M5 (1975)
Derek Bailey & Ruins - Quinka Matta (1995)


At 8:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How did you come by such news?

I hope he was with loved ones (being x-mas I guess there is a high chance of this).
What an extraordinary person.

From a selfish perspective, I am colossally disappointed I won't get to see him play - he was high on my list after seeing the playing for friends on 5th street DVD.
Only got into him this year, after years of exposure from a perceptive friend (thanks Hamish)...planning a listen to Improvisations tonight.

At 5:28 AM, Blogger Rod Warner said...

very sad news - like the last commentator, I never go to see Derek play - missed him many times over the years! But as a guitar player I've loved his awesome steely brilliance for a long, longtime. Was planning making a big effort to see/hear him in the new year... too late now. A great loss...

At 7:45 PM, Blogger Taxi Driver said...

Sad news indeed. May he rest in peace.

At 9:31 AM, Blogger Clurg said...

Great post about unfortunate news.

At 9:01 AM, Blogger eric said...

Here is the Guardian UK obit for Bailey:,3604,1674695,00.html

At 7:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

He really understood the essence of what it means to make contact with the moment - the actual feeling of an instant before it became the next instant and instantly translating that instant into an instant composition.

At 6:14 AM, Blogger 3Ply Stagliano said...

I'll miss him most for his time on 'Mr and Mrs'. I had always hoped he could come back for one last run but, sadly, that doesn't seem possible now.


Post a Comment

<< Home