Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Derek Bailey, Christine Jeffrey - View from Six Windows


For many of us whose interests arose from rock music, the first encounter with what came to be called non-idiomatic improvisation was ECM 1005, The Music Improvisation Company. Trying to reconcile the instruments listed with the sounds coming out of the speakers was baffling to say the least, especially for ears not attuned to abstraction and the expanded techniques employed to produce these noises. There were sounds that gave the impression of being strings, was that the guitar, and other sounds which might conceivably be termed percussion, but I heard nothing which sounded like a saxophone and what the hell was meant by live electronics. Derek Bailey later opined that he was assiduously avoiding any use of open strings at that time, so it was a bit disconcerting that some of Hugh Davies' homemade contraptions were essentially nothing but an open string. For all that though, the most mysterious element was the voice. I decided the singer must be recorded so poorly as to be drowned out in the mix. I heard Ovary Lodge around this same time, also quite abstract but Julie Tippetts' vocals had an expressive quality that made them quite recognizable, whereas Christine Jeffrey eschewed anything that smacked of emotion, and blended with the other timbres so well that it made one doubt there was any voice present. In retrospect I can pick her out quite easily, but at that time the recording seemed very mysterious.

A sticker affixed to the cover of View from Six Windows features a laudatory blurb by Anthony Braxton, terming Bailey "The most amazing guitar player on the planet" and opining that he and his music are "one of the most significant contributions to creative music (and world creativity) in this time period". Of course Derek Bailey is very well documented on recordings, the same cannot be said for Christine Jeffrey however. It was only when View from Six Windows was released in the early '80s that I was at all certain which noises Jeffrey had been making on the MIC album. View from Six Windows is the perfect vehicle for Jeffrey with only Bailey's acoustic guitar, and on one track a ukulele, for accompaniment. Bailey is at his sparest and most pointillist on View, which allows one to hear clearly what Jeffrey is doing. At times the timbres and spaciousness of the recording even recalls the biwa, shakuhachi duet of Takemitsu's Eclipse. This is a recording whose dynamic range and delicacy cries out to be heard on CD, but it's never been reissued, so this at times somewhat noisy rip shall have to do for now.

1. Here Today...
2. One Old One
3. Nothing Lasts Like the Makeshift
4. One Young One
5. Two Part Pier
6. For a Day or a Stay
7. Adrienne
8. What Now?

Derek Bailey - acoustic guitar, ukulele on 4
Christine Jeffrey - voice

Recorded in London, January, February 1980
ML-114, Metalaguage 1981

download | Vinyl rip | mp3-320 kpbs | 95.2 MB |

19 comments:

Lucky said...

thank you, gidouille!

i can't recall ever having heard of christine jeffrey. coincidently, over the last days i was collecting bailey's company recordings as far as they are available at blogs etc.

but i like bailey best when he's either alone to himself, or with just one partner - like the duet with cyro baptista (the first one), which was a wonderful entry to his music for me.

øשlqæda said...

sounds irresistible. thx kindly, luck :)

øשlqæda said...

gidouille i mean, of course. fuck it, thank you both :)

Lucky said...

haha, i already thought about saying something, since it's gidouille's post... this happened before! and it's kind of you to tell it...

a solution would be to drop the "lucky" from the blog's title, 'psychic hut' would be more open :S

gidouille said...

Lucky, Christine Jeffrey must have appeared somewhere else, but offhand I can only think of the two recordings already mentioned, this and The Music Improvisation Company. There's an earlier MIC than the ECM one, but I believe that's only the quartet of Bailey, Parker, Davies and Jamie Muir. It would be interesting to know if she was an influence on the more abstract singers active today, such as Amy Yoshida, or perhaps Maja Ratjke.

You're both most welcome.

Anonymous said...

I've got a lot of Bailey (just ordered The Milwaukee Concert from Incus on CASSETTE!) but I don't know this one... thanks so very much!

onxidlib said...

Rare post!
That's an interesting question: "It would be interesting to know if she was an influence on the more abstract singers active today, such as Amy Yoshida, or perhaps Maja Ratjke."?

There is an unknown his(her-)story about those real, imaginary and possible lineages and influences.


...books to write...

Anonymous said...

Many thanks for this which I didn´t know existed. I saw those two with Jamie Muir at a gig in London around this time. An unforgettable experience.

gidouille said...

Anonymous2, Jamie Muir is another not especially well represented on recordings, and as I understand it no longer involved in music. There was a duo recording with Bailey available for a time, Dart Drug. Ironically, it was likely his brief tenure in King Crimson which led many listeners to the MIC in the first place.

Anonymous1, is it just called the Milwaukee concert or did Bailey actually perform in Wisconsin?

onxidlib (your monicker makes me think of Cosmic Comics by Calvino) I can find almost nothing about Jeffrey on the net. Among the top listings which come up are this post and one by a fellow with the album for sale, who doesn't like it and compares her to Yoko Ono, way off base in my opinion. I see that The Music Improvisation Company can now be downloaded legally from a number of outlets. I grabbed the three individual tracks they allow to check the sound and bitrate, 256, an improvement over the vinyl rip available on the net. One Euro source has it in flac, but it's quite expensive just like the limited Japanese reissue that was available for a time.

Anonymous said...

Gidoulle, at the gig I mentioned Muir had a trunk of assorted "junk" which he manipulated with great sensitivity, once emptying it completely with a lot of racket at precicely the "right" moment. Jeffrey was unlike any other singer I have ever heard, a voice like a musical instrument. Derek Bailey was, well, Derek Bailey. This was all about spaces and sounds and silences, of course. I don´t know what happened to mr. Muir after that - I´m not a resident of the UK. I have heard the Dart Drug, but nothing else since then.

gidouille said...

Anon, according to what's found on the web, Muir has gone back to painting. He'd attended art school before even taking up percussion, so it's not too surprising.

onxidlib said...

Qfwfq is the name of Calvino's main protagonist in Cosmic Comics by Calvino (at least in the german translation) - for my tongue onxidlib is by far easier to pronounce (off course! - I've "invented" it through two mistakes) - ;)

I haven't yet read Cosmic Comics - but surely I shall close this gap in my education very soon - thanks for reminding me!

I was able to get the MIC on JAPO (japanese edition) for a reasonable price three or four years ago.

When I was listening to King Crimson for the first time - some years ago - I wasn't aware of "Improvised Music" - only later I realised that Jamie Muir or Keith Tippett are coming from another musical lineage.

The CD version of "Dart Drug" has the title 'Carminative' in a shorter version (almost three minutes); for whatever reason...

BTW - my monicker "onxidlib" is a mixture of Dixon (as Bill Dixon) in reverse order and the german word for "love".
But I made at least two mistakes in forming the monicker - the whole thing happened while hastily creating a google account for blogging....

Lucky said...

"noxidliebe" wouldn't be just as cool as "onxidlib". with your explanation it's nice to see you improvised with words and went for the "wrong" one... when i started i went for "mr. lucky" and later picked duchamp's "l.h.o.o.q." (mona lisa w. mustache) as avatar. i had the feeling that "lhooqy" (pronounced "lucky"!) must be the ultimate name for me - but it was just the bit too much and i skipped it... ;)(

gidouille said...

Onxidlib, yes Qfwfq. It's speculated that Calvino's protagonist is meant to represent the second law of thermodynamics. It was just the consonant rich quality of your name that prompted the reference.

Anonymous said...

With a little research I found out that Jamie Muir also played on the Incus record "Trios by Company" which was recorded in 1983.

roberth said...

i love this record. i have on cassette. think i borrowed vinyl from henry kaiser way back when.
along with cyro batista duo it one of my fav derek duos.
i love it.
robert

CICCILLO said...

hi, Gidouille, if you are still interested we finally posted on SMALL SONGS the mythical Cassette by Feminist Improvising Group.
bye, F.


gidouille said...

Ciccillo, thanks for letting me know about the F.I.G recording. I'll let some other fans know as well.

Unknown said...

Wow. I would love to hear this. The download link isn't working for me. I would love to know what this pair sounded like.