* Edition of 300 copies, one time pressing * In the history of free improvised music, there has been arguably no greater advocate for the idiom’s power and potential than the English guitarist Derek Bailey. Fiercely principled, between his emergence during the 1960s and his death is 2005, he cut a wide path, positioning this music as the height of creativity, transpiring in real time, and a means through which people from diverse background could come together, express, and commune. For Bailey, “playing is about playing with other people... improvisation is a process that gets relationships sorted out” and this was something that best transpired in a live context. No Business’ latest LP, Live at FarOut, Atsugi 1987, a never before issued duo between Bailey and the Japanese saxophonist, Mototeru Takagi, brings all of this into crystalline focus. A vast, airy expanse of careful response and interplay, each player brings the other alive, carrying them to new height across the album’s brilliant two sides.
Of all the players to hold a place in the European context of free improvised music during '60s, '70s, and '80s, few can claim to be as globally and collaboratively minded as Derek Bailey. Unquestionably one of the most influential guitarists of the 20th century - having almost singlehandedly rewritten how the instrument could be played and approached - Bailey constantly pushed himself in a restless furry, seeking the possibilities that are sparked by new interactions with different players. His music was, as it remains, a series of conversations - each as singular and distinct as the next - that venture beyond the comforts of the known.
Mototeru Takagi, who passed away in 2002, was among the most important players to emerge from Japan’s free jazz scene during the 1960s, but, because he most often worked as a side man and recorded very few albums as a leader, remains sinfully under-appreciated and overlooked. Takagi first appeared, bearing a distinctive and powerful approach to free playing, as a member of The Motoharu Yoshizawa Trio in 1968, going on to play with Masahiko Togashi, ESSG, Masayuki Takayangi's New Direction Unit, and the percussionist, Sabu Toyozumi, over the ensuing years, as well as being part of the ensemble that created Milford Graves' brilliant 1977 LP, Meditation Among Us.
Bailey and Takagi collaborated on a number of occasions over the years, notably captured on Bailey’s 1978 LP, Duo & Trio, the other recording that has been released to date of the pair at work. Beyond its incredible sounds, this makes No Business’ releases of Live at FarOut, Atsugi 1987, that much more historically important. On top of everything else, it is a rare document of an aggressive and vibrant form of free jazz, alive and well during an era that saw the idiom retreat from a deal of ground that it had conquered during the decades before. It becomes rapidly clear as the first notes ring out, that neither Bailey and Takagi are giving up any.
Encountering both players at the top of their game, Live at FarOut is bristling with tension and remarkable restrained interplay, each delivering a flurry of harmonics and texture into stunningly conversational tonal dance. Filled with air and space, Bailey and Takagi dart to and from, relying on their ears as much as their fingers and minds, creating something entirely singular - separate from any notion of idiom, specific to them alone - and of its moment, somehow standing outside of all time.
A truly stunning display of artistry and skill, captured and finally issued for the first time as a beautiful LP by No Business. Throbbing with life and definitely one of the best documents of free improvisation we’ve heard recently.