Tuesday, May 13, 2008

1982 pisa trio


**update 29/12/12 - see latest comment

last week saw an abundant sharing of wonderful live material on inconstant sol - all of it hidden away in the comments on kinabalu's braxton 1969 post, having been tirelessly upped by tantris. kinabalu's original post, which kicked the whole thing off, does not itself sound like a live recording, but as of yet there are numerous question marks over it... though no doubts about the quality of the music!

i promised last week (on sol) to post an mp3 version of one concert: the improvised trio of mr b. with derek bailey and george lewis from pisa in 1982. the sheer quality of this performance, in terms of successful group interaction (to put it mildly) and continuous commitment, engagement and invention from all three players, is so remarkable that i knew i was gonna have to talk about it a bit - let's not forget: our man is not yet supposed to be able to communicate meaningfully with the european free royalty such as bailey ;-)

anyway... there was a dropout on the source recording, which i have fixed (restoring completely seamless play); and i found myself breaking the piece into three parts, indexing at b's re-entries each time, so as to make the whole just a little more palatable for inexperienced listeners who are overwhelmed by the density of the music (again, play is seamless, just remember to take out gaps before burning to cd!) - in truth it would be possible to index it into ten or twelve parts at least, so much ground is covered by our three co-pilots and so swiftly do the basic mood changes zip from one to the others.

bailey probably surprises least here - which is not to say that he ever sounds less than fully appropriate to the moment; maybe i was just constantly distracted by the two hornmen, just amazing from start to finish really... lewis is a wizard, preternaturally forming the mesh through which these two completely different voices - braxton and bailey - can bind together: b's "birdsong" approach to open improv, to soloing generally, is free in spirit and always essentially unpredictable, yet usually takes the character of developing melody; so it's seemingly a poor match for bailey's spiky non-tuned obstinacy, but they've worked together successfully before (on numerous occasions) and here they are brought very closely together by lewis, who provides the middle ground yet is always taking full licence to express himself.

and as for my main man... well, no-one'll be too surprised to see that reed moments predominate among the few highlights i've singled out below:

a) around 6.00 (and before) b. is using circular breathing on the sopranino, in the manner more often associated with evan parker (who taught him this last technique) or roscoe mitchell - this is the earliest occasion on which i myself have noticed this being used (though i daresay it's probably not the earliest occasion it was used update: see comment #11)... ** b) from around 8.00 in the same section, b. seizes on the very wyrd backdrop co-created by the others to develop a strategy for the clarinet which is not unlike his own comp. 38a (new york, fall 1974)... it works so well that the others are happy to let it spin out for a while... ** c) from around 3.00 in the second section, b's soft whistle builds into a spiralling scream, spellbinding in its frightening intensity, which employs circular breathing to a different end, channels the most intense collection of dark emotions - then subsides easily into a beautiful passage of utterly different flavour, the reed now so sweetly persuasive in its soft flutterings - the extreme dynamic divide just crossed is all in a day's work for these three heroic explorers... ** d) at 9.00ish in the second part, lewis takes some time out to explain what he really wants to say and brother, it's strange and riveting in the telling ***@@@*** ... ** e) around 1.00 into the last section, braxton's amazing conception is new to me (as is the spiral scream of earlier) - can never recreate it in my head afterwards, so shan't describe it... go geddit :)

here's the file, full info included: http://tinyurl.com/462fkp

see comments for more details about last week's hectic activity...

keep the faith... spread the word


12 comments:

centrifuge said...

it's all in here:

http://tinyurl.com/4xemq6

- in addition to the tantalising mystery which is the main post, there are no fewer than SIX superb live recordings in there, including of course the original lossless version of the pisa trio. quartets from '79, '83 and '85 (twice) plus a duo performance with peter brötzmann from '85 (also highly impressive). it's possible that i will put up mp3 versions of some of the other concerts at some point, but i'm not promising anything ;-)

thanks and hi to the sol crew

please let me know what you think!

Lucky said...

bailey, lewis and braxton. i'm speechless.

i heard the trio of bailey, lewis and john zorn from 83, but this one here is new to me. it seems very promising, to say the least. and to read your opinion just makes me want to hear it - right now. i thank you. immensely as ever. 8+]

centrifuge said...

cheers lucky {{{A@A@A}}}

you mean yankees - ? fucking fantastic album that is... i really do think zorn is ridiculously underrated as a sax player (not by the usual jazz critic suspects, to be fair, but in the online communities)

that's probably the first george lewis recording i heard..? or was it... hmmm... anyway, took me a while to be able to hear bailey as i've said before (not here), but i listened to the album several times anyway, because the interaction between zorn and lewis is so incredible... rivetting!

and what did you think of the '82 trio..?

Lucky said...

centrifuge - on the pisa recording i really had the impression of braxton & lewis trying to speak in the same clustered language like bailey. i had the same difficulty into getting into bailey's playing like you mentioned - his guitar voice is so clustered and abstract, and the tone is so un-guitar-like. but i do love him nowadays, and i really admire his humour, which is hard to pinpoint - absolutely british, in my opinion, but you're more of an expert on this subject, i suppose, don't you, lad? ;)

yankees IS fantastic - and i'm glad you always telling your meaning about zorn! it's true, bashing zorn is en vogue, but probably for the wrong reasons. i love his whacky early records, where he plays alto, clarinet or game calls - in a density and speed which sounds out of limits...

Lucky said...

p.s.: maybe i should start a blog where i do with zorn what you are doing here with braxton... :|

centrifuge said...

heh :) yeah, bailey's humour is very dry, very british as you say - and specifically very typical of yorkshire. once one is attuned to his playing the humour comes through fairly regularly.

as for the other thing... hey man, if you have the time, i will certainly read it! bit more time on your hands now, huh? :)

Lucky said...

yorkshire, ha? i bet it's not the city of terrier and pudding for nothing :)

time on my hands? well, right now i'm working an average of 50 hours a week. blogging brings me down a bit, but i'm in no way capable of doing a zorno site at the moment - and the weather is TOO nice to sit in front of the screen at the daytime... and nighttime is for kissing, you know :)

g'nite

centrifuge said...

heh heh... yeah, i wondered whether you realsied what you were saying..! that's a huge task to take on... mind you, i'm hardly one to point the finger on that score am i ;-)

if you ever *do* find the time i'd still be sure to read it... i have been talking to someone about doing a zorn piece actually, not for the blog though

lest any yorkshiremen complain, i'd better point out that yorkshire is a (large, tripartite) county not a city... well-known yorkshire cities would include leeds, bradford, sheffield (birthplace of bailey and tony oxley)... and york, funnily enough ;-)

Lucky said...

"doing a zorn piece" what you mean by that? doing some write-up? i raise my finger to read it, if it ever happens.

sorry about the yorkshire mistake - just been once to london for a week, when i was 18, which is all i ever seen of britain, or the u.k. at all.

about the zorn thing: i'd be interested from his beginnings till the first masada's - after it i lost track, interest, etc.

have a nice (and not too workaholic) weekend! :D

Lucky said...

"doing a zorn piece" what you mean by that? doing some write-up? i raise my finger to read it, if it ever happens.

sorry about the yorkshire mistake - just been once to london for a week, when i was 18, which is all i ever seen of britain, or the u.k. at all.

about the zorn thing: i'd be interested from his beginnings till the first masada's - after it i lost track, interest, etc.

have a nice (and not too workaholic) weekend! :D

centrifuge said...

circular breathing: this afternoon i listened to the second set from wilhemshaven, may '79, the 4tet with ray anderson, lindberg, barker... the opening number (which i haven't identified yet but is almost certainly from the 40 or 69 series) contains a sopranino solo in which b. uses circ. breathing to great effect.... i suspect he'd been doing it for some time already... the temptation was to assume it was in 1976 he learned it from parker, but ..?

centrifuge said...

seeing as people are revisiting this post atm, in the wake of my recent rediscovery of the (complete) recording, i thought it worth pointing out a couple of things... firstly, obviously the timings given in the piece referred to my own, restored-and-indexed, partial edit of the music. ok, at some point soon i will try and correct the timings so they actually make sense for someone listening to the NBH official (and complete) boot.

- and secondly, the reference to braxton's "not supposed to be understanding euro free improv" at this stage may now need some explanation, since that particular diatribe was pretty much put to bed when alyn shipton admitted to me on the bbc r3 messagebored that he wasn't about to try and defend (his previous guest) brian morton, now that he was familiar with the nature and strength of my objections to morton's various glosses, insults and howlers (as they appeared to me at the time, once i'd totted them all up)... but yes, i meant "supposed" according to the scottish critic, who had maintained (ish - this was on shipton's jazz library instalment on braxton btw) that prior to the 1993 LJF, b. just "hadn't really got" what the europeans were trying to do, and those meetings with evan parker /and paul rutherford were (critics' licence - well, not in my eyes) a new breakthrough for the american. utter tosh... arrant tripe... codswallop. british enough for you mr morton? :)

- needless to say, i was not putting this forward as my own opinion. needless, 'cos my prior writings on (b's meetings with) derek bailey shd make that abundantly clear