Friday, September 11, 2009

Derek Bailey - Ballads (2002)

| Avant-Garde | Free-Jazz | Experimental Guitar |

Derek Bailey was a free improvising avant-garde guitarist. For listeners unfamiliar with experimental music, Bailey’s distinctive style can be initally quite difficult. Its most noticeable feature is what appears to be its extreme discontinuity, often from note to note: there may be enormous intervals between consecutive notes, and rather than aspiring to the consistency of timbre typical of most guitar-playing , Bailey interrupts it as much as possible: four consecutive notes, for instance, may be played on an open string, a fretted string, via harmonics, and using a nonstandard technique such as scraping the string with the pick or plucking below the bridge. Playing both acoustic and electric guitars, Bailey was able to extend the possibilities of the instrument in radical ways, obtaining a far wider array of sounds than are usually heard. He explored the full vocabulary of the instrument, producing timbres and tones ranging from the most delicate tinklings to fierce noise attacks. (The sounds he produced have been compared to those made by John Cage’s prepared piano.)

Ballads is exactly how it seems to be, a kind of romantic album. Derek do his characteristic experimental-form guitar on some classic jazz tracks. They don't sound very much similar to the original versions, here they're presented on a amazing unique approach. Bailey plays with a feeling that I've rarely seen on my life, and sometimes it sounds like the guitar is a extension of his body. The finest tracks are "Stella by Starlight", "My Melancholy Baby" (where he shreds his guitar in a slaughtering way), "Body and Soul" (a kind of a latin-sounding ballad) and the two versions "Gone with the wind" (though it may be the less experimental on the whole album, it's still holds Bailey's soul).

Catalog: TZ 7607 (Tzadik)

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