Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Ben Watson — Derek Bailey and the Story of Free Improvisation

Despite my love for free jazz, I've long struggled with some of the guitarists to circle around that movement, most especially Derek Bailey, whose brand of playing makes even the loose tag of "jazz" insufficient and limiting. I'd hoped this book would help sell me on him a bit more, and while Watson at times makes Bailey sound so fascinating, so worthy of repeated listening, the author often resorts to Marxist caterwauling about the superiority of nonmaterial music over commercial product (and you oughta see some of the people he argues are mainstream sell-outs). It picks up toward the end when Bailey's own period of comfortable, rewarding musicianship seems to make the biographer happy and content as well, but this was a sadly frustrating read that only deepens the sense that Bailey is for "superior minds," with all the tedium that entails.

Read my full review at Spectrum Culture.

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