Derek Bailey’s guests for Company Week at London’s ICA in July 1982 were contemporary classical pianist Ursula Oppens, folk/jazz singer-turned-improviser Julie Tippetts and her partner pianist Keith Tippett, violinist/electronics wizard Philipp Wachsmann, guitarist Fred Frith, trombonist George Lewis, harpist Anne LeBaron, and from Japan free jazz bassist Motoharu Yoshizawa and sound artist Akio Suzuki. Altogether they performed the stunning extended improvisation Epiphany. In different, more intimate lineups they detonated numerous Epiphanies. Here, to start, Yoshizawa and Oppens (both on the keyboard and inside her piano) bounce ideas off each other like ping-pong balls. Then Tippetts, Wachsmann and Bailey do extraterrestrial cubist flamenco; and Lewis and Frith rumble at everyone magnificently. Tippett and Oppens kaleidoscope the entire history of the piano into just over fifteen minutes (Fourth and Fifth) with added seasoning from LeBaron and Wachsmann.
To close, Akio Suzuki — despite once describing himself as “pursuing listening as a practice” — makes one hell of a racket with his self-made instruments: a flute, a spring gong and his analapos (two single-lidded cylinders attached by a long steel coil, which he can manipulate and strike, besides vocalising into the tube). Yoshizawa and Bailey give him a real run for his money, and it all builds to an ecstatic, swirling, grinding climax, with Suzuki whooping and hollering wildly.