My music pal Steve Beresford invited me along to the launch afternoon of a live Derek Bailey CD on Incus Records this afternoon.
He and saxophonist John Butcher played a short and very entertaining set of what Steve calls 'squeaky bonk' music at a very neat venue called the Jazz Servants Quarters in Dalston; there is something about it that reminds me of the paintings of the Dutch Masters: the lighting, perhaps, or maybe the size of the venue.
Steve had a tableful of toys, and created all manner of unexpected sounds using a fan on a stretched guitar string, an amplified fork scrape, or a small tin bowl bowed with a childrens' violin bow; he looked like a scientist frantically excavating his lab for the secrets of music lost in time but captured in his collection of toys and mini-electronica. The crowd, frozen in concentration and living for the sound-moment, rustled with pleasure as Steve answered the crash of a glass falling on the floor in the bar upstairs with a swift clank of the little tin bowl. Perfect.
Meanwhile, John fanned the air next to the sax mouthpiece, spat and pecked, looking as though the sax itself was pulling his face into a series of intense frowns, and sometimes appearing to eat it with a hunger to produce new tones and timbres; the changing of mouthpieces added to the dramatic effect of his performance. Bathed as they were in pink light, there was magic in the air.
Photographs: the audience; Karen from Incus introduces the afternoon; Steve and John.