Joseph Holbrooke Trio - The Moat Recordings
Derek Bailey’s death Christmas of last year is still fresh in the minds of many. It's a dull communal ache that the newly released Moat Recordings will hopefully have a hand in assuaging. Back-story on Joseph Holbrooke Trio is gospel to many free improv followers and readily accessible on the web. The partnership was one of the first Petrie dishes in fomenting free improvisational techniques. Bailey and drummer Tony Oxley continued in the field, becoming cornerstones on their respective instruments and elder statesmen of the "non-idiomatic" idiom. Bassist Gavin Bryars dropped off the scene and defected to contemporary composition, making his own modest mark in those environs. Thirty-odd years later the trio reunited for a concert in Cologne released on Incus as Joseph Holbrooke ’98. Shortly after that momentous rendezvous, the trio decided to enter the studio and further test the fortitude of their rekindled alliance. So what caused the delay in disseminating of the results? Tragically, Gary Todd, original producer of the sessions, suffered a serious accident that necessitated permanent hospitalization and effectively took him out of commission. The project stayed stymied for several years until Todd’s associate Tom Recchion stepped in. Bryars got in touch with John Zorn and pushed the project through to completion under the financial auspices of Tzadik.
Byars protracted absence from not only free improv, but also bass playing in general, might cause some to take pause. I have to admit my own concerns in pondering how he would hold up in the company of doyens of the caliber of Bailey and Oxley. Defying doubts, Bryars does just fine, his muted, slightly amplified double bass frequently acting as pillar against which Oxley and Bailey clash and crunch. In his commentary, he notes a chronic aversion to electric bass and the bias comes across in a rich mahogany tone. Bailey plays both electric and acoustic guitars, making frequent use of volume pedals to squeeze out his signature serrated swells and bundled coils of caustic distortion. His faculties and chops are in sterling shape throughout, the debilitating carpal tunnel ailment still years off. Oxley concocts a fractured thwacking barrage, the brittle metallic facets of his kit positioned at the forefront of his tempo-oppositional patterns. Friction and dissonance are his closest allies and he continually reasserts why he was the guitarist’s most apposite foil. There’s so much music packed onto the pair of discs that a blow-by-blow of tracks makes even less sense that it ordinarily would. Most of the pieces are lengthy with only three of the fifteen clocking at less than six minutes apiece. Sharp-clawed bloodletting conclaves like “Crookesmoor” coexist alongside mellower fare like the spidery “Mappin” where Bailey pecks picayunishly at his acoustic while Oxley interjects chimes and cymbals and Byars thrums away quietly, shaping a cushiony harmonic underbelly. There are also episodes of symmetrical delicacy and even errant lyricism as on the Kabuki-tinged “Holderness,” my favorite track of the set.
In terms of value-addeds, the Moat Studio sound is clean and incisive and points directly to why the spot was one of Bailey’s favored haunts. Packaging and documentation are on par with past Tzadik sets like Wadada Leo Smith’s Kabell Years and Painkiller’s Collected Workss exhibiting gorgeous production values that more than do the music justice. An accompanying booklet contains essays by Bryars and Bailey and a postscript by the former briefly reflecting on the passing of the latter. On the one hand, it’s a shame Joseph Holbrooke’s renascence was so short-lived. On the other, considering the circumstances of their decades of silence as ensemble, what they did manage to lay to tape deserves to be prized. Plans are purportedly in the works to release more contemporaneous live material in the near future. In the context of the vast value endemic to what is collected here it almost seems a crime to ask for more… almost.
~ Derek Taylor
Posted by derek on March 23, 2006 2:55 PM
Joseph Holbrooke TRIO..? I always thought they were just called Joseph Holbrooke. Someone save me a trawl through the cupboards & confirm / deny this please. I hope this particular release will be better than the last one.
That sounds right, Dan. I’m curious why you feel the switch in name matters?
I haven’t heard the Incus material, so I can’t comment on the comparative quality (“momentous rendezvous” above refers to the historical weight of the meeting :). But this stuff sounds great to my ears.
It would be interesting to hear more rehearsal tapes from 64 or 65. Oxley supposedly has some.
Or the lost tapes of Joseph Holbrooke backing Lee Konitz....
"The last one"? You mean the 10-minute "Miles Mode" or the 38-minute 1998 reunion album? Haven't heard the former, though I'm told it's no great shakes; the 1998 reunion album is lovely.
I think the name does matter.. "Trio" sounds dreadfully functional, even if there's noone in the group actually called Joseph Holbrooke. I like the idea of a group named after someone else, like Gerry Miles. I always wanted to write a piece called "James Brown".. probably can't, I guess. He might have copyrighted his name like Bill Dixon (TM).
Yes, I thought the Miles Mode thing was pretty dull, but the 98 reunion was OK. My reservations principally concern Bryars, understandably. I quite like what he does, but having heard so many albums with Bailey and the likes of Barry Guy, Joelle Leandre and especially the AWESOME duet with Maarten Altena on the Pisa 80, Gavin's work sounds rather lacklustre in comparison. Anyway, we'll see.
Thanks for the explanation, Dan. One man’s molehill is another man’s mountain.
I hear you on Bryars too, but I don’t think it’s entirely fair to compare him with other bassists in the Bailey orbit. Again, I can’t speak for the Incus sets, but here I don’t get the sense that he’s trying to match Bailey or Oxley at all, both of whom are leagues ahead in a setting such as this. Instead, his role is often more grounding agent and anchor, bringing a more orthodox musicality to the proceedings. He’s got a gorgeous tone and an often understated approach, especially in contrast to the more rambunctious and recalcitrant tendencies of his colleagues. At least that’s how I hear it.
"the AWESOME duet with Maarten Altena on the Pisa 80"
-That duo is in fact great. It's great Evan re-issued that since nearly all of it is great, esp. the George Lewis/Altena/Lovens trio. I think Altena is way under-rated. He has made some monumental duos, two other great ones are with Kowald and Lacy.
I recently did a study of Derek's duos with bass, His duo with Barre is really amazing it so relaxed you even wonder if they can play at times!
Another amazing duo is the "3 cd with Simon Fell.
It is true Mr. Bryars, like the rest of us, will pale in comparison to these bassists
I don't have the Pisa 80. Shit looks good!
Altena is a motherfucker; everything I have him on I enjoy a ton. He's super-wigged early, like on Porto Novo (M. Brown, H. Bennink). I'd like to get those solo LPs on Claxon and ICP as well - Handicaps looks pretty fun!
"I'd like to get those solo LPs on Claxon and ICP as well - Handicaps looks pretty fun!"
- I think I have them all. They are all great. Handicaps is actually interesting music and not just a gimmick. "Weavers" with Chrismann and Lovens is pretty amazing as well.
I even like his later composed work, but not as much as his bass playing.
I go back to Altena's ensembles on Rif & Miere, as well as the duos.
While I haven't made it through the entire Moat Recordings album yet, from what I've heard thus far, I would say that it exceeds the '98 album in terms of both playing and sound quality. While Bryars may not have the facility of a Guy or Phillips, as Derek pointed out, he does have a nice sound and his pitch-based playing provides an interesting contrast to Bailey's and Oxley's percussive and textural approaches on the cd. Also, after reading Bryars's great liner notes, it becomes more clear that these recordings may have never seen the light of day if it wasn't for Bryars's persistence and involvement (which is somewhat ironic considering that Bryars basically turned his back on improv in 1966 after Joseph Holbrooke's last gigs) - giving me the impression that Bryars was more key to Joseph Holbrooke than I had originally thought.
I just got it today. The sound quality is really rough, and I am no audiophile.
I can get behind Bryar's playing and approach, the music is certianly different because of it. I can't help thinking that having someone like Gary Peacock, Anders Jormin or even Drew Gress would have made for better music in the same vein, obviously without the historical signifigance.
Damon, are you referring to the Tzadik release? If so, I'm thinking you may have a bum copy. Mine sounds just fine, both on ear goggles & speakers.
Heard both cd's . The Moat are ok. Very interesting for Oxley as a percussionist. Besides Howard Riley trio ( "Synopsys" and "Overground" on Emanem), the reissue of AlanDavie MW 005 on a:l:l and the a/l/l Floating Phantoms , there are few Oxley improv recordings available. His quintet with Stabbins, Guy, Riley, Wachsmann and Hugh Metcalfe has never been recorded and issued, besides the Glider on Bead (with Wolfy Fuchs).
Hearing this , I find that, in this context, Lovens and Lytton would have been better/ more at home than Oxley in terms of the whole performance , stories told , the right sound at the right moment etc...
Of course Gavin is taling an anchor role. You guess what John Edwards or Clayton Thomas or Kowald (or Rogers) would have made.
Someone told about Maarten Altena. Yes heard him often in the seventies. He would have been great in this context . Have you heard Yoshizawa with Derek in Epiphanies / Company 83 ? Great Track.
The Moat are a rehearsal band. They needed to perform more before recording a better music. There's no secret. And Oxley who I like a lot (heard the Howard Riley trio in the flesh and bought the lp in 1975 in Shfatesbury ave, and heard some quintets) is not the best at improv, sorry. Too much sticks !
Fred Van Hove would not have issued cds like these. There is something happening but there are plenty of Bailey's stuff more satisfying. I was in the Antwerpen's Joseph Hollbrooke 99. First set was dull, second OK . But when you have flashed at five Parker Lytton sets around 74 - 76 and the great Lovens Lytton concerts ( I organised the last 86) or as you witnessed Fred Van Hove improvising one long piece during one hour and fifteen minutes (Wachs/ Mark etc..) I don't say the John Rose Veryan Weston session etc.. you forget this Holbrooke concert ! I heard many Bailey's concerts far more essential than that. He was better between 73 and 86/87, sorry. Still good but !
Percussion/ guitar wise The Dart Drug tracks with Jamie Muir are beautiful. And the Drops with Centazzo are compelling.
Sorry if I shock someone. A lot of bla on Bailey but there are a lot of very good improvisors ignored in the media. Listen to them !!!!!!!! Jean michel VS Waterloo ( 85)...........
I'm seriously disappointed with the Moat set, after two careful listens. Bryars is by far the weakest link, but I can't say I'm all that blown away by what Bailey & Oxley are doing either. I'm beginning to wonder whether Joseph Holbrooke is the most hyped thing since Oasis.
Speaking of obscure Derek Bailey recordings, my fave is "Views from 6 Windows," Metalanguage 114. Christine Jeffrey, vocals. It's unhinged even by Derek's standards. Unearthly.
Yeah, I can think of at least twenty Bailey albums that are more worthy of being trumpeted than this new one, and not only with star performers (the Vortices & Angels duos with Butcher on Emanem need some beating) but also with line-ups that are intrinsically problematic (the Bailey Hautzinger on Grob), and of course the much vaunted drum'n'bass outing on Avant. My advice to would be punters is to invest in those before paying out big bucks to get hold of the Moat Recordings, however pretty it might look.
I don't own the Bailey-Hautzinger any more. "Problematic" is too kind a word. IMO it was two guys in two different worlds, never connecting or not connecting in an interesting way.
Another "problematic" Bailey CD is Mirakle with Jamaladeen and Weston -- John Zorn playing Quentin Tarantino on that one: i.e., putting some of his fetishes in a blender and setting it on "churn."
sorry, but I LOVE 'MIrakle.'
it's all about taste with that one though: either you love hearing "out" stuff on top of more traditional rhythmic stuff (in this case electric bass driven funk) or you're disgusted by it. i could lie in it all day long
Yeah Mirakle is great stuff! It actually enticed me into picking up Tacuma's one-disc selection on Gramavision.... biiig mistake, but nevermind. I like it a lot more than the Ruins collabs.
Is it really true that Views from 6 Windows was nominated for a Grammy? (cf. the Rough Guide to Jazz).
Haha, vive la difference.. I love the Hautzinger (exactly Tom, though let me insert a hyphen: "not connecting - in an interesting way) and absolutely hated the Tacuma. Don't care for the Ruins very much either.. the only power rock Bailey outings that sound any good to my ears are the Metheny bash - in veeery small doses - and Arcana). But I think it's great that we all completely disagree! What do you (Tom, Andrew, Nate) make of the Moat box, then?
Dan, I don't have the Moat box and am unlikely to get it. It sounds like a contrived project -- which is what I make of Mirakle and Baily/Hautzinger, too, as it happens. The only Hautzinger I've been able to get with is Brospa.
I do love out stuff over traditional rhythmic stuff. (plug) Hear my "Dream Band" on (Y)earbook 3, on Rastascan, for proof: a well-regarded AACM saxophonist forced to play over PiL. (/plug)
Anybody heard the Bailey duet with Tony Coe on Incus? That's one I'd be interested in checking out.
Wow, tell us how you *really* feel, Dan (Oasis? Yikes!). I’m still digging this one a lot, though moreso for parts of Disc 2 than Disc 1. Looking forward the promised future installments for sure.
Mirakle is a beaut: Tacuma & Weston setting up the funk pins & Bailey repeatedly rolling strikes with a shrapnel-studded bowling ball, & I’m a fan of Ballads too. Hell, I even found worth in Carpal Tunnel, so maybe that further disqualifies me from considered opinion on this thread.
Haven’t heard the Coe confab that Clay mentions, but it sounds terrific on paper.
The Oasis line was a reference to the liners I wrote for Potlatch's first release - Bailey Léandre No Waiting (which dates from about the same time) - but I'm the first to acknowledge Oasis wrote some great songs (Wonderwall sounds even better in the version by the Mike Flowers Pops). The only thing is they were determined to be bigger than the Beatles, and when you get that bee in your bonnet you should know you're going to get stung badly.
Anyway, more on this album in PT in about a month. I'm off to listen to something really good: the new Potlatch with Dörner, Butcher and Charles, the Robin Hayward on Fringes, Mersault on Quakebasket, and the new Polwechsel which is absolutely superb.
Never caught the Oasis bug. Their collective ego struck me as a smoke screen hiding little else. Sounds like a full plate, Dan. Is that Polwechsel you mention the new one on Hat?
Yessir. And mighty fine it is too!
just to answer your query, dan - like tom, i too don't plan on hearing the moat box because i dont plan on purchasing it.
that new polwechsel though... that could entice me to break my "no music purchases till june" thing. is the lineup the same as the most recent?
just to answer your query, dan - like tom, i too don't plan on hearing the moat box because i dont plan on purchasing it.
that new polwechsel though... that could entice me to break my "no music purchases till june" thing. is the lineup the same as the most recent?
as far as hautzinger, i think his solo disc is unstoppable, and the double disc dachte musik on grob i truly consider one of the greatest sets released within the last ten years.
funnily, i havent been able to get into brospa. and the two times i've seen him live left me quite mixed. blown away by the quartet with tilbury, sachiko and werner; nonplussed bya duo with Rilo Chmielorz, who scraped little pieces of metal and sandpaper stuff in a very "fine art" fashion.
the new Polwechsel is with their new lineup, Stangl has been replaced by Beins and Brandlmayr. I haven't heard it yet, but I am supposed to be getting some promo copies for US critics (Ollie and Bivins, that means you).
"the double disc dachte musik on grob i truly consider one of the greatest sets released within the last ten years. "
just curious, do you know that it was mastered at half speed, meaning the CDs are elongated to twice the length they were in real time?
I will disagree with the critical consensus here and say that I like this two-disc set quite a bit. Derek's descriptions of it pretty much sum up my feelings--the clashing and cranking of Oxley and Bailey provides for an interesting soundscape, and I actually like Bryars' playing. Then again, I'm not a huge fan of Bailey generally speaking, so take it for what it's worth.
no i didn't know the dachte musik things were slowed down. makes a lot of sense though, and on some level i probably did know it - just because the flow of it is so off. So the whole thing, every second, is slowed down to half speed? hmp.
Yes, it was Radu who requested that. He thought the original was too "gabby".. you could amuse yourself though by loading the discs into ProTools or SoundForge or something and speeding it up twofold.
I love this thread. So many divergent opinions. That's what it's all about. Did Hautzinger's "Oriental Space" make it over to where you are, Andrew? That's a tasty one. IMHO..
there was talk about a second volume of Dachte Musik at one point, I believe that was the original plan.
As Dan is revelling in all the divergent opinions here, I'll do my part by throwing in that I much prefer Bailey's collaboration with the Ruins to Mirakle (which I don't care for at all).
I was just thinking about throwing dachte musik into my dual cd players tonite and speeding it back up to realtime (i have one of those dual cd player things for DJs that can do this.) I definitely want to hear it like this now.
I actually picked up oriental space from mazen kerbaj when i went to that high zero fest last september, and also like it very much, though i've probably had under twenty listens to it.
have any of you ventured into the early hautzinger, supposedly before he developed his close-miked technique, et al? I've been told he's unrecognizable compared to his current self.
also, back to bailey - i've always reallly liked that bailey/ wand/ oxley/ thomas stuff on incus, and all the permutations therein. the soho suites duo with oxley has always floated right over me, so much so that my attention inevtivaly drifts away withing fifteen minutes and i dont remember anything i heard. after years of listens, i still dont have any opinion about those recordings because i just havent been able to hear it when its playing!
"have any of you ventured into the early hautzinger?" Not on disc, but I have seen him play straight & v well with Kurzmann's big band Orchester 33 1/3 and with his own Regenorchester funk laptop outfit in Lisbon two years ago (with Fennesz, Karl Ritter, Helge Hinteregger, Luc Ex and Alex Deutsch).
Jeez Andrew if you've managed 20 listens to Oriental Space you're doing just fine. I wonder how many times you've made it through Dachte Musik! I can't remember the last time I played something twenty times..! But the new Donald Fagen is already in double figures, and I expect the new Scott Walker will be too, when I get my hands on it.
Thanks for the tip-off on "Views from 6 windows". Sounds interesting. Must check out the Hautzinger duo too.
Anyone heard the Gospel Album? The first and last tracks on it are really beautiful. Sounds much like how I always hoped Acid Mothers Temple might sound, only they never did. The rest a bit half-baked and zany.
String Theory is another odd corner of the Bailey oeuvre. Probably the closest thing to reductionist improv he was ever involved in. It's almost completely ignored in Ben Watson's biography, possibly for that reason.
"It's almost completely ignored in Ben Watson's biography"
-- along with just about everything else..
""It's almost completely ignored in Ben Watson's biography"
-- along with just about everything else.."
-Henry Kaiser does a talking review of that terrible book on his new cd on my label. Watson seems to be more sinister than ignorant, ready to just just re-write history any time he feels like it as oppossed to some of the other critics who have just been too lazy to research the music.
Double Bassist magazine had a problem reviewing improvised music for years, stiff classical guys who did not get it. I sent them Peter N. Wilson's contact. He was only able to get in an article on Fernando Grillo before he passed.
Unfortunately they have Watson now.
In an article on Simon Fell ( who's bass playing I have been really enjoying lately) Watson says the IST along with "radu malfatti's Polwechsel" are responsible of the whole lower case thing.
I've noticed an inordinate amount of antipathy directed toward Ben Watson by people on this site, particularly by Mr. Warburton. While I do not always agree with Mr. Watson's opinions, he is by any measure an interesting and provocative writer. With due respect, much of the criticism aimed at him comes off as sour grapes, at least from the pertspective of someone like me who's just an interested observer to the contempo music scene.
"I've noticed an inordinate amount of antipathy directed toward Ben Watson by people on this site, particularly by Mr. Warburton. While I do not always agree with Mr. Watson's opinions, he is by any measure an interesting and provocative writer."
- Maybe if he got his facts straight the agenas he pushes would be interesting and provacative. As it is he just comes off as a hack to anyone who has put any time into studying this music.
He never did anything to me but poorly report on subjects I am interested in, no sour grapes here.
On the otherhand Warbuton seems to put his time into researching the music. No one is perfect, but to me he is one of the best and most serious writers out there and seems to work very hard.
I'd imagine Watson for him is like when I hear a really terrible bassist getting a lot of play.
What I love about bags and the internet in general is that critics are welcome to churn out poorly researched/agenda pushing dribble, but it is no longer the final word.
I've gotta agree with Mr. Smith on this one, and rather emphatically. With regards to Ben Watson, what a lot of folks find problematic is not necessarily the conclusions he draws but the bilious tone. Oh, and the dime-store theorizing is just embarassing; Watson often sounds like an undergrad geeked by the Adorno he's just read.
I understand what you mean. But I think what separates Watson from the average person who posts on this and other internet sites is that he's obviously a talented *writer*. That's why he's writing for publication. We, on the other hand, are spewing for zero compensation, simply out of love for the music. I'm no expert, but it seems to me that it's not enough to know a subject if one is to be a critic. One must be able to make his points in a compelling manner. One must know how to use language creatively. The people who are able to do so are more likely to get the "final word". The rest of us are just thrashing about, preaching to the choir, as it were. Whether we like it or not, Ben Watson's writings ultimately carry more weight than anything we post here.
I'm sure Watson would spell agenda correctly unlike me. I'd call Warburton, Art Lange, Markus Mueller and Peter N. Wilson talented writers in terms of improvised music.
Being a good writer without having a good grasp on your subject, or conciously twisting it to fit your needs might equal a talent but of a different kind.
I think there a enough scholars of this music who can form sentences better than an improvising bass player to choose from. The publications he writes for should know better.
"Whether we like it or not, Ben Watson's writings ultimately carry more weight than anything we post here."
Really? With whom? Where? Who's he writing for these days? Hi Fi News? He seems to have stopped writing for The Wire. By the way, I invited Ben to publish a reply to my review of his book, but never heard anything back. As you all know, I thought his Bailey book was seriously disappointing, a real lost opportunity (especially now that Bailey is no longer around), and I said so in no uncertain terms. I wasn't alone in thinking what I thought. But that doesn't mean I haven't enjoyed a lot of Ben's writing, and I'm enjoying the new CD he's curated on Sonic Arts Network, Frankfurter Ahnung.
FYI, several years back Eugene Chadbourne took Ben to task in Signal To Noise, and I wrote a piece by way of reply that was never printed, but here's the final paragraph:
"As for writers with an attitude – David Toop invented the wonderful adjective "attitudinous" in a review of a Tricky album some years back – like our own Ben Watson (whose facts are rarely called into question: what irks people is the spin Ben likes to put on them), well, you either subscribe to the agenda or you don't. Anyone who's read Ben's work often enough will be aware by now of his self-styled revolutionary agenda; what's amusing is the lengths he sometimes has to go to to ensure his heroes (particularly the wacky triumvirate of Theodor Adorno, Frank Zappa and Johnny "Guitar" Watson) don't get tarred by the brush he wields with such Franz Kline abandon. Though some of it makes my hair sometimes stand on end too (I think the editors at The Wire finally asked me to write for them to stop having to send me free CDs for the many irate letters of mine they published attacking Ben), the following extract from Ben's review of two recently reissued Shannon Jackson albums makes it all worthwhile: "As for the drummer... William Hooker's good, Susie Ibarra is fine, Paul Hession is great, but there's something about Shannon that kills you. [..] You realise why certain records by Ayler and Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, Peter Brötzmann and Bill Laswell stand out: they've got Shannon shaking the ground the musicians walk on." Now that makes your hair stand on end for the right reason. It's the voice of a man who, like everyone reading and writing for this magazine (I hope!) absolutely loves the music and finds his/her life richer and better for it. If I didn't already have the albums in question, I'd rush out and get them. And that's precisely what good music journalism should make you want to do."
I suppose I just meant that he's widely published, and that, for better or worse, the printed word seems to carry more authority than internet BBS posts.
kevin - if you think ben watson is a talented "*writer*" i highly recommend extending your reading range outside the realm of music journalism.
i genuinely feel pain for your shallow soul since you think that he uses language creatively. keep in mind that i am voicing a completely personal opinion that no doubt represents me as an asshole, but i seriously feel sorry for you.
Thank you for your heartfelt concern, Mr. Unwrinkled. I just remembered why I quit posting here.
"brush he wields with such Franz Kline abandon"
- Many of those Kline paintings are more metiulous than they appear. For many of them he projected enlarged versions of his small single brush strokes and copied them on that larger scale.
I'd campare him more to the Austrian Painter Arnulf Rainer who "overpainted" historical paintings.
Yes Damon, I was wondering about that line when I reread that this morning..
i know kevin - honest opinions are painful.
What's painful and puzzling is the unremitting bitterness on constant display here. Why are so many people who post here so angry? To a relative outsider like myself, it's glaring. Maybe you guys don't notice it because you're used to it, but my goodness, if people related to each other face to face the way the posters on this site do, the world would come to a quick and bloody end.
While we're at it, why do so many of you neglect to capitalize words like "I" or proper nouns or the first word in a sentence? It's not something I've encountered elsewhere, and it seems too prevalent here to be coincidental. Is there some connection between no-caps and the anger?
Anyway, I'll bow out. I'm not a member of your family, and I've no right to tell you how to raise your kids. Take care.
The funny thing is reading that Dan Warburton thinks he's a better writer than Ben Watson. That's what this has come to?
How many platforms does Warburton need to work his agenda? He has his own webzine, he writes for the Wire and then he posts whatever he wants here. At least Watson's agenda is political.
Musicians should write about their own music. Derek Bailey did
that. Read his own words in interviews and his book, not the impressions of writers.
yep, Kevin, there's a lot of bullshit here, and some unfriendly people too. While I can't always ignore the bullshit, I do my best with breezing past the pompous attitudes and holier than thou opinionating. But anyone's a fool to let their own peeves obscure the value in the content here on the whole, "published" and in comments.
I have to wholeheartedly disagree with the idea that a person who makes ends with regular writing gigs in theory has more to offer than the people here or any other "lesser" publication. There is a lot of passion in these pages and elsewhere that would otherwise be chopped out in the first revision of a professional journal submission. To compare amateur internet publishing to established circulating rags is like garage music to 64 track studio products. Why bother?
back to the deep.
"The funny thing is reading that Dan Warburton thinks he's a better writer than Ben Watson."
Firstly, where have you read that, Joe? Secondly, why is it funny, and thirdly, what makes you so sure that's what I think?
"How many platforms does Warburton need to work his agenda?"
WHAT agenda? I'm only writing what I think about music, musicians and music journalists, and that's exactly what you and everyone else here is or should be doing too. No hidden agenda, no secret plans to take over the world. On the other hand, it seems you do have an agenda of sorts, which is to jump in any thread here you can with the express intention of bitching and moaning about me or Nate Dorward.
"At least Watson's agenda is political."
Perhaps some of the more committed Marxists who post here would like to comment on that. I'm afraid I haven't spent much time reading Adorno since I was at university, and didn't enjoy reading him then very much.
"Musicians should write about their own music."
Yes, we know how you react when somebody writes something about your music that YOU don't like. Anyway, Ben Watson digs your albums so that's fine.
"On the other hand, it seems you do have an agenda of sorts, which is to jump in any thread here you can with the express intention of bitching and moaning about me or Nate Dorward."
Don't be so self-centered. I have posted plenty on this site that had nothing to do with either of you. What I have written about you and Dorward was relevant from my point of view.
I'm not defending Watson. We all have issues with him and his poitics. Musicians who have issues with Ben feel that you and Dorward are nearly the same as him, without the politics. Really. That's why what you wrote is so funny. When you ask" Who's he writing for these days? Hi Fi News?". People ask similar things about you and Dorward. Who are you guys and where do you get off writing the stuff you write?
It is amazing that you have your own web site but you use this one to publish something about Ben Watson that didn't make the cut in print years ago,(even if it's a compliment) where of course he might have been able to read it. You do that kind of thing a lot here and then you spout off about "music journalism" like you are the dean of music journalism. It seems that you use this web site to get a second shot at subjects you missed on before. You didn't get the ultimate word in on the subject so you will do it here.
It is also amazing that you are willing to publish critical pieces about any musician, say anything you want to say about anyone, but you have a hissy fit whenever you are criticized. Dorward goes berserk.
My biggest trouble with Watson is the willful bending of historical facts to push both his musical and political agendas.
Another quote from his Simon Fell artitcle in double bassist:
"When most people 'compose' for improvisers they supply broad outlines. Fell, on the otherhand writes detailed charts, replete with the weird obsessionalism of composers like Webern and Messian"
Sounds innocent enough, except it is British writer, writing about a British double bass player, for a British double bass magazine AND the fact that the most prominent other British musician 'composing' is a British double bass player named Barry Guy whose scores redefine meticulous.
The Bailey book is full this kind of thing. I should say again, I have been listen to Fell a lot, he is a really fine bass player and there are several new cds where he is just amazing.
The political stuff I can ignore, a lot of my other reading is essays on visual art, half of those writers are pushing some half baked political agenda, so I have learned to ignore it pretty well.
Bending of historical facts is a widespread epidemic. Revisionism (or is it a lack of knowledge) used to press one's position is everywhere in the writing about improvised music.
I don't see how those words about Simon reflect in any way on Barry Guy though. Simon is a really great musician with tremendous compositional skills.
Years ago Ben really tried to push the heck out of Simon. He caught a lot of flack for that, but Simon has gone on to prove that he
deserved the praise.
By almost any reasonable criteria, I would say that Watson is not a good writer. I bought the Bailey biography and didn't find it particularly provocative or interesting. Maybe Watson's other work shows him in a better light, but I thought the Bailey book was just terrible.
Hm, I think that Dan once remarked in the little interview that accompanied the release of the first Return of the New Thing disc that some musicians (his example was John Zorn) were good "stepping stones" for listeners new to experimental musics. In other words, they can lure in listeners, whereas other (equally or more) notable players might not. Watson is sort of the same thing, I feel: yes, there's a lot that's wrong, or wrong-headed, in his writing, yet its passion and obsessiveness come alive on the page, especially for someone just getting into the music. Haven't read any of his music crit for ages (including the Bailey book)--not sure what I'd make of it now. Probably groan about the cartoon polemics & offhand pseudohistory & so forth. But I guess it matters when you encounter it (actually I first encountered him as a poet and performer, at the CCCP poetry conference, in duo with Simon Fell--& also picked up his little Equipage book 28 Sliverfish Macronix, which you could say stands in the same relation to John Wilkinson as Eugene Chadbourne to Derek Bailey). And I suppose I like music crit to be entertaining & irritating.
it's funny when people talk about ben watson's political agenda when the thing he's doing is he's using political analysis in his writing (thus making his approach philosophical and not political). i find Dan's positive involvement with the music (the position he's chosen to put himself into) much more political, at least that's how it looks like from where i am (Greece - my only connection with this world is the internet & the mail-order network). The problems with Watson arise when he's using his analysis to put through his opinions -letting the analysis guide him would be a more sound method. i do miss his eugene chadbourne reviews on the wire though.
another funny thing is when people mistake this commentary for live dialogue ("would you say the same thing in the guy's face..."). it just doesnt work that way
sheesh, you guys! i have the bailey book and it didn't bother me that much. it's just some guy's biased take on derek's life. sure it contains dubious political tangents. sure it doesn't really actually talk about the actual music very much. sure, evan parker and john stevens don't really exist in its scope. sure, there is a bunch of alleged errors (not sure which ones though - i'll ask kaiser tomorrow - i know a pretty good amount amount music in general and nothing in particular made me vomit with rage!) . . .
i'm glad i read it, rather than didn't read it. it filled up some hours of my time with fun. i wasn't expecting the book to be some kind of final word on anything, just some potentially trivia-filled entertainment, which i believe it succeeds at being.
i guess it's all about expectations. i just didn't find the book to be this completely ignorant, useless piece of shit which some of you have pegged it as being. to each their own . . .
i might add that i've had violent reactions to shoddy, inept music writing before - and the derek bailey book was not it.
ND writes "And I suppose I like music crit to be entertaining & irritating".
Now this is something I respect in people. Watson never hides behind a curtain of respectability (or as Han Bennink calls it artsy-fartsy music). He is a screaming street-corner revolutionary by his own account. He tries to irritate. He admits it. Most of the time he knows which musicians are on the same corner, in the musical sense.
Ben Watson has written some very accurate and nice things about my music and some really dumb things that suggested that he knew what I ought to play more than I did. I thanked him when he was right and nice and I busted him when he wasn't.
Thought I’d add a coda.
Went to the John Zorn “Tribute to Derek Bailey” concert last Saturday night. Oxley, Bryars, Laswell, George Lewis, Milford Graves, Mike Patton and Zorn himself played in various combinations à la Company Week. The most interesting music came from a trio of Oxley, Bryars and Lewis, and from Bryars and Lewis in duet. Bryars didn’t appear to adapt – stylistically – one jot all night: he stuck to a measured pace and used nothing anyone would call extended technique. But it was a notable contrast to the rest of the gig (largely directionless playing-for-the-sake-of-playing). Arguably had more in common with Bailey’s practice (doggedness of attitude) than the self-conscious zaniness of much of the gig. I won’t mention Laswell’s hideously 80s FX-pedalorama.
"Ben Watson has written some very accurate and nice things about my music and some really dumb things that suggested that he knew what I ought to play more than I did. I thanked him when he was right and nice and I busted him when he wasn't. "
Indeed ... he was lovely to link me with Polwechsel and shit in the late 90 ´s and that helped me a lot out of it
the thing is : we all need a Ben Watson around BUT as far as you dont mistake him for someone else ... ( and that particular point seems THE misunderstanding ) -
it should always be so that you could have a A + a B + Z and a C and altogether that makes a HAPPY WOLD full of lively Contradictions !
( is what we need )
The Moat Recordings by Joseph Holbrooke ... (no trio, he) ... were classic Oxley and classic Bailey, as those of us who were listening 40 years ago well know. Unfortunately for the double-bass, they were also classic Bryars. Barry Guy must have winced.
But not really ...i think the whole particularity from the trio since start was precisely that each of them brought and covered a different field ... it s never been 3 = 1 but : 1+1+1
Those Alteena Claxons are absolutely amazing and absolutely impossible to find.
"Those Alteena Claxons are absolutely amazing and absolutely impossible to find."
- I think I have them all, they are great. I paid around $7-15 in shops and $20-30 from ebay and Pinnotti.
He was a really under rated bass player.
''In an article on Simon Fell ( who's bass playing I have been really enjoying lately) Watson says the IST along with "radu malfatti's Polwechsel" are responsible of the whole lower case thing.''
This statement is clearly exaggerated, but there is after all some thruth in it, at least that Fell's trios like IST and VHF were important in forming an aesthetic later terribly labeled ''new London silence''. I have always felt that his role in it was a bit unrecognized ...
or maybe just kept SILENT as well ?
a "tribute to derek bailey" featuring "mike patton"? WTF!? you mean that guy with the mullet that sings in faith no more? what, did zorn give this clown a derek bailey record last week or what? gimme a fuckin' break.
oh, no, pardon me . . . now he's the guy that's a genius because he did a solo album in his hotel room . . . great. whatever. yea "tributes"!
As we say where I come from, "jobs for the boys"..
You're better off where you are, Weasel. (But I did like Mr Bungle)
ha ha ha.
you want mike patton to jam with bill dixon at victoriaville - and everybody wins!
Common .... Mike Patton with the same line up on the Ligeti tribute at Tonic is just perfect
i m sure you all heard the story of Zorn wanting to do a Great Jewish Composers album on Dave Brubeck ?
..yeah until he found out he wasn't Jewish..!
More and more I respect Zorn's experience and have learned to respect him for where he is today: someone who has spent the last 20+ years playing with great players and composing for great ensembles.
however, that just makes the "let's Throw Patton into the mix with some great players " joke all the more tired.
I did not like Mr. Bungle or the even more unforgivable Faith No More, even when Rap-Metal was "in" the first time.
I do respect Zorn for many many things
it aint a question at all
i just find one can also be critical when it comes to clear non-sense and not swallow all just cause there s a serious amount of religiosity when it comes down music discussed around here
again we do criticize or praise pieces or gestures , in all cases it s an IT and not just private or personal ( or if then i would insist we clearly name who and sign )
in this case it s definetely not the first time Zorn s putting together collage of names that may be funny on the poster but not work as musical experience ... When Derek was playing to Drums & Bass on London pirate Radio it was seriously something else than the record who came out with not quiet the right person in front
and nothing wrong to say that Brubeck s huge nose is maybe a little short of a judgment to include him in a serie like that
i guess "ROCK AROUND THE BUNKER" from Gainsbourg was far more transgressive
It s all a bit like wearing a Che Guevarra Tee shirt or a Bob Marley one just cause it looks cool ... in some cases Zorn s links out of serious interraction are more annoying and disturbing than anything esle ( Duras, Sade, Houdini etc )
Just found a copy of that Dave Brubecki with Braxton on Konitz on alto .....
Weasel Walter said: a "tribute to derek bailey" featuring "mike patton"? WTF!? you mean that guy with the mullet that sings in faith no more? what, did zorn give this clown a derek bailey record last week or what? gimme a fuckin' break.
Damon Smith said : More and more I respect Zorn's experience and have learned to respect him for where he is today: someone who has spent the last 20+ years playing with great players and composing for great ensembles. However, that just makes the "let's Throw Patton into the mix with some great players" joke all the more tired. I did not like Mr. Bungle or the even more unforgivable Faith No More, even when Rap-Metal was "in" the first time.
I guess you’re all referring to the recent Derek Bailey live tribute at Barbican, London that featured Zorn with George Lewis, Tony Oxley, Gavin Bryars, Milford Graves, Bill Laswell and Mike Patton, right? Anybody went to this show? I would be curious to hear about that…
That being said, the guest list comes as no real surprise to me as Zorn was curating this particular event, am I right? So once again he threw a bunch of seemingly unrelated (?) and legendary (??) players on a stage, so what? He seems to be doing just that every time he does a Cobra performance for instance. Plus in this case all players kind of make sense as far as their connection to Bailey is concerned. Even Laswell who had him included in his dreadful “Arcana” project, quite unfortunately... As for Patton, I really don’t know: he seems to have been Zorn’s protégé for a while now and he’s often part of his recordings and other all-star collaborations. It certainly doesn’t excuse anything though… Thinking of it I guess I prefer hearing Patton’s stuff than Laswell space-prog-deep-funk-fusion-my-ass bass playing, IMHO of course.
As I said I’d be glad if someone could report any impressions from this Barbican show.
And thanks to Weasel and Damon for enlightening me: I didn’t know that mullets and rap-metal were “in” at some point! I was probably trapped in a space time warp back then…
Oops! I just saw Matt’s earlier comment (June 19) which basically answers my question. Should read the entire thread before asking… Any other take on this performance? Any battle royale between Oxley and Graves???
Mullets have never been "out." You just travel in the wrong circles.
"Thinking of it I guess I prefer hearing Patton’s stuff than Laswell space-prog-deep-funk-fusion-my-ass bass playing, IMHO of course."
-Yes, but Laswell's bass playing in Last Exit, Painkiller and on "Lowlife" amoung other releases is better and more serious than anything Patton could ever imagine doing.
>better and more serious than anything Patton could ever imagine doing
At least two of the Fantomas records (the debut and Suspended Animation) are excellent, and very "serious." Check 'em out with open mind/ears sometime. He's occasionally onto something. The new Moonchild disc on Tzadik (though it's credited to Zorn, the guilty parties are Patton, Trevor Dunn and Joey Baron) is also very good. And Painkiller was only good through Execution Ground; everything since has been shit.
Agreed. Laswell’s contribution on “Execution Ground” is essential. That’s Painkiller’s masterpiece and Laswell is certainly accountable for most of its ultra heavy dense slow-moving sound. Last Exit was a great outfit too, even though appointing any other bass player wouldn’t had hurt the music too much I think… Except that, I’ve never been too convinced by most of the other stuff from him that I now of: countless dub, funk, metal, drum’n’bass, ambient and “world music” projects and usually a heavily-produced “fusion” (oh I hate this word) of all the above. Also, I saw him live 3 times (Painkiller 2003, Method of Defiance & Purple Trap 2005) and each time I was REALLY saying just one thing to myself: knock it off with that damn “cry baby” pedal of yours!!! Got a headache just remembering it… Any suggestion of a decent Laswell recording where he does not feel compelled to use 200% of his arsenal of phony effects?
I think "Lowlife" the duo with Brotzmann is really good.
Laswell is not without problems, but bass guitar is so rare in improvised music and he is one of the few to do anything at all with it.
"a "tribute to derek bailey" featuring "mike patton"? WTF!? you mean that guy with the mullet that sings in faith no more? what, did zorn give this clown a derek bailey record last week or what? gimme a fuckin' break.
oh, no, pardon me . . . now he's the guy that's a genius because he did a solo album in his hotel room . . . great. whatever. yea "tributes"!
yeah, i mean fantomas, naked city, flying lutterbachers, mr bungle ... who needs that pretentious shit anyway.
Tongue in cheek, Tomas?
What is this, let's all dump on Patton? I don't care for Faith No More very much but I enjoyed Mr Bungle and Fantomas Suspended Animation. (Not as much as the Flying Luttenbachers though..) Phil's Wire piece on Patton gives some good general background. Anyway, in several days the long awaited reissue of Topography of the Lungs will be here to take my mind off such weighty debates ;-)
"Topography of the Lungs "will be here to take my mind off such weighty debates ;-)"
and there s some AMANDA LEAR reissues and singles coming too ( BillLaswell-less altough could have worked ) - Laswell , the Motorhead one he produced is really someting ..... and the Celluloid ones with Manu Dibango too
dan - i like patton. i just think it's lame and really easy to bitch about him (cause he's a "star", you know). i've read other post of ww, where he was asking for respect... so where is that respect now, mister?
I saw a Faith No More concert something like 9 years ago (yeah I was young and didn't listen to jazz and improv at that time, didn't know about improv anyway back then !) and I thought that Patton was a pretty amazing rock singer ...
And I was pretty surprised when quite a few years later I saw his name alongside Zorn's.
If Patton can bring avant-rock fans to improv and that kind of music, I think it's something bag's writers should be happy with ... A lot of improv and avant-garde music advocates complain that there is not enough people listening to that kind of music and going to concert and stuff... there is an amazing number of Patton fan websites on the net and these guys are tracking every new appearance of Patton, offering free bootlegs to anyone who's interested... if Patton fans can get to listen to George Lewis and other improv guys that way, or by going to concerts, everyone should be happy with that ! It's a win-win deal : Patton gets a credibility and free-prov musicians get a new public.
Bailey was always interested with meeting new musicians with different backgrounds, so why not Patton anyway ?
And concerning Zorn, I have been quite a fan for the 7 last years, and that's through his music that I got to know Fred Frith, Bailey, Chadbourne, Haino, and many other musician ... And I discovered Bagatellen something like 2 years ago when I was searching info about him on the internet ... so even if you don't like some aspects of his work, I beleive that no one can dismiss his enormous influence on the jazz / free-prov / avant-garde music scene for the past 25 years.
Good points, Vinz. Yes, if Mike Patton's work functions as a bridge for folk to cross over into the wild and woolly world of Weasel Walter (et al), all the better.
> If Patton can bring avant-rock fans to improv and that kind of music, I think it's something bag's writers should be happy with
No "serious" person wants that kind of fan to show up and pollute the aesthetic atmosphere. Why, they'd probably come down looking to be "entertained," or talk during a performance, or want a beer during the show, or something equally vulgar. Worse, they might not know how very deferential and reverent they're supposed to be in the presence of the venerable geniuses of the non-idiomatic improvised music scene. No, the very idea of the hoi polloi sullying improv gigs with their hairy-knuckled presence is abhorrent. Far better to perform once or twice a year for the same dozen people who "really get it," until they all die off (performers and attendees alike), knowing in their final moments just how right they were, all along.
Phil--well, I wouldn't swear that there aren't some smug snobbish types out there, but until you can produce some evidence they're actually in the majority it'd be nice to have the stereotypes toned down. Most musicians & fans I know are happy to see a full crowd.
Two tickets for the next Taku Sugimoto concert comin your way Phil
" No "serious" person wants that kind of fan ..."
no thanks .... maybe YOU wanna have "seriosoity" police officers in front of improvised music clubs ?
"youngsters and mixed feelings UNWANTED"
WE ARE CHURCH , OUR PEOPLE ONLY" ?
sounds lovely and warm
take care ( both ways )
Wow, so I can blame Patton when those types show up to gigs?
Seriously, it can actually be a problem.
Trying to play acoustic improvised music is certainly a lot easier
for 5 quiet beard strokers than few hundred talking, drinking hipsters.
If have to choose I'll take the beard strokers. Since there is no money to speak of, most of the time I just want the performance environment to be right.
Luckily there seems to be a middle ground.
It is true people like Patton bring people into the music.
Does that mean we have to pretend he is as serious as Phil Minton?
I took a listen to his recent projects on myspace - sounds like slightly more modern numetal and rap metal.
I have no problems with people wanting to branch out from other genres into improvised muisc I just think there needs to be some improvment over time...
10 + years on and still being the wacky rock wildcard is just not enough.
There are some extracts from the Barbican concert that can be heard on the BBC website until next Friday.
Not the best bits in my opinion, but Zorn's playing is at least a lot more detailed than it sounded to me at the gig.
"It is true people like Patton bring people into the music. "
Definetely yes and this doesnt mean i personally like or not but just that it is a fact
the same way Sonic Youth or Jim O Rourke did for sure open it up to other and younger people
Does that mean we have to pretend he is as serious as Phil Minton?
That s a matter of judgment and personal taste i guess, i dont have to put down X or Y just cause i consider W or Z ... BETTER
i m sure you d find plenty of examples .. just enough SERIOUS straight Ahead Jazz Players who ll consider your Improv Heroes cant play shit when it comes down to Changes or The Blues ... all that sounds an endless discussion and i think goes nowhere
cause each one can says NO to the other on his own "Serious" Basis ...
Just think for someone who s into Fantomas or some other rather Rock music that passing the door of an improvised music club for the first where most the afficionados will look tat him or her like : WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING HERE ? is not quiet happening ...
should you consider John Stevens a clown because he s never been only into and not strictly Improvised music only ? or Han Bennink for playing Swing ? or etc ?
and etc ...
you can always be the Clown of someone else it s pretty easy ... it does mean you ARE one actually
its like big playground, many people, some stick some much together, others wander from there to there, some are alone... some are fighting or playing some games, mmmhhh; and there are the clowns also, there are older people younger ones, and there s space enough for all that, and linking is good, not licking, it depends what in fact... or maybe its like a playground at primary school
clown does show to others that they are the clowns, the others not the clown himself he s not really a clown, for kids i think its different, it rather shows them that adults are the clowns, in fact, because the clowns they know its a comedy
nan chais pas... prrrrt
so improv gigs in a sense are closer in their presentation, audience situation to orchestra concerts, like i mean what is called classsical musical, or contemporary... opposed to jazz with a club ambiance, bar glasses chattering... and or rock with the crowd more or less excited, but hot and humid.... yes extremes differences, maybe more mix required in general no?
or not more mix... just space for everyone without exclusion... maybe that sounds somehow;;... what humanist, no because i dont feel like... euh.. dreamy... about the world
I ve never particulalry liked circus but somehow i feel like saying
was such a great CLOWN ( in the most and deepest and all senses of the term )
( IN MEMORIAM )
while something else is
we re also surrounded by people makiing Puppets or Clones of themseleves
if ever that would be Funny alright ........
but in most cases in find it pathetic
and Improv or Free has its good share as much as any other scene, community
i guess "Serious" s never been a Genre nor a sign of being part of ...
just as IMPROVISING
Enjoy Gustaffson as much a Brecker or Lockjaw Davis
and compare Eminem to better to Sinatra
cause they re the same function ....
I LOVE Phil Minton the same as Carmen Mc Rae or Eye ....
I never said people should only play improvised music, I guess my point is that when people come into another form of music than what they normally do they need to take is seriously and do the do the work it takes to play it well.
As was pointed out above the exchange is:
Improvisors get more audience, the Rockstar get artistic credibilty.
That is only a fair exchance if good music is made.
Anyway, I found that youtoube clip and I liked what he was doing.....