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It’s a Mirakle!

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Imagine walking into a big music store. Two guys are playing: a solid funk bass propelled by a wiggly, syncopated drummer.

Then, on the other side of the room, some kid on an elementary school field trip picks up an electric guitar that somebody left plugged in. The kid doesn’t know how to play, not even a little bit. So he grabs a string and gives it a yank. Sproinggg!! ..then another, maybe a little louder this time. He moves his left hand, makes a sorta-chord and rakes his right across the strings. Klangg!

The thing is, you haven’t seen the kid. So you’re trying to figure out if this plonky guitar actually goes with the rhythm section. It just might.

Or not.

Welcome to the strange and beautiful world of Derek Bailey, king of the freely-improvised guitar.

Bailey has made a lot of recordings in various contexts: solo, duos , small ensembles and large groups. All are worth checking out. On Mirakle he teams up with Jamaaladeen Tacuma on bass and Calvin Weston on drums. Definitely a formidable pair. Mirakle is a good introduction to this style of play as the funk rhythm section give the uninitiated listener something familiar to hold onto while the more “alien” guitar does its thing.

Now, I’d be the first person to admit that this recording is not for everyone. Derek Bailey’s guitar style will require some time to “get”. In fact, you may never “get” it. If you do though, a whole new musical landscape will open up for further exploration.

(First posted on Mark Is Cranky)

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About Mark Saleski

  • Eric Olsen

    Fascinating Mark – have heard of Bailey but never heard him.

  • Tom

    My few experiences with Derek Bailey haven’t been all that good, unfortunately. This sounds intriguing, as all of his stuff does. I may have to check this out.

    I find Henry Kaiser’s similarly-random playing to be much more enjoyable to listen to. I get the feeling that Henry is playing to a rhythm in his head more than Derek is and therefore he tends to follow at least some predictible pattern, as random as his plinkings and pluckings actually are. It just seems to me like Kaiser employs a heavy sense of humor and wonder in what he does, which is what I didn’t find in Derek’s work. I’ll be interested to check this album at some point, however – a rhythm section like that is unstoppable.