Friday, December 14, 2012

DEREK BAILEY / EVAN PARKER – Arch Duo (1999) (Live at 1750 Arch Street Berkely, Ca. 1980)

Label: Rastascan Records – BRD 045
Format: CD, Album; Country: US - Released: 1999
Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation
Recorded live Ocober 17, 1980 at 1750 Arch Street Berkely, Ca.
Recorded By – Robert Shumaker
Mastered by Myles Boisen/Headless Buddha Labs
Design and layout by Steve Norton/Red Notebook, with type by Michael Cina

This long-awaited release contains their entire 70+ minute 1980 duo performance at the legendary 1750 Arch Street in Berkeley, California. Bailey plays both electric and acoustic (and breaks a string mid-performance; see if you can tell where!) and Parker plays both soprano and tenor saxophones. This is their first duo release since 1985, and their first release by an American label. An important and historic recording.


This is a rather lengthy continuous improvisation from two of the most well-known and skilled British free improvisers. It's always interesting to hear Evan Parker before he began to stess circular breathing techniques as his primary mode. His lines are still longer than those of, say, Peter Brotzmann, but the shorter soprano spirals have a delightful way of doubling back as they dance about Bailey's spiky, angular instant edifices. I'll concede to the previous reviewer that Parker is playing circles around the guitarist for much of the disc, but this is characteristic of much of Bailey's "unresponsive" group playing. His frequent apparent obliviousness to other players can be chalked up to his stated preference for the unexpected quasi-Cageian juxtapositions that leaving the "jigsaw puzzle" incomplete can produce. However, there are many points on this cd where the two lock into a rapid tangle that turns into an exciting game where Bailey feints and parries while Parker uses his speed and fluidity to pre-emptively shadow the moves of one the most unpredictable improvisers of all time. Even when Bailey withdraws into disinterest, the saxophonist playfully darts about, attempting to prod him back into battle. Both players have much better cds available, but it's fascinating to hear these two pioneers going head to head before their falling out.

– By Phil Avetxori


Two different sets of artwork were prepared for the Arch Duo CD. One version was used (the cover of which can be seen here, up), but I thought that might like a look at the version that wasn't used. Sculptures, drawings, and cover lettering are all by Anthony Mostrom; layout and design was done by Steve Norton/Red Notebook.

Links in Comments!


  1. DEREK BAILEY / EVAN PARKER – Arch Duo (1999)
    (Live at 1750 Arch Street Berkely, Ca. 1980)



  2. Oh yes, Vitko - some tense, heavy and glorious listening to be had here. Thanks again.

    Following up the GIO Festival gigs in Glasgow. It was fascinating to hear the Parker/Lewis duo with George Lewis on both trombone and live processing. I enjoyed a lot of it but it was interesting to see Evan Parker alter his playing to deal with being processed. Definitely throttles back and didn't really hit full speed. I'd also rather have listened to more of Lewis on trombone - he's a master.

    He did play with the orchestra and in some smaller groupings - the improvisation with the trombonist and cellist from the orchestra was breathtaking. The orchestra also played a commissioned piece by Jim O'Rourke. It was enjoyable and very funny in parts - the musicians had two cards each which they could turn over at any point and they had to follow the instructions on them, so we had members phoning each other, swapping shoes and the cellist even had to steal the drummers drumsticks. Great fun but in danger of becoming a circus act at times.

    The highlight, inevitably for me, was the Schlippenbach Trio. They were mighty, just left me speechless. Lovens was on fire and the contrast with Parker's playing with the electronics was evident.

    All in all a glorious weekend of free improvisation.

    1. Thank you for such a good, above all lucid attitude towards music. I see you've enjoyed immensely, and noted some very interesting moments, which only have live performances. That is the beauty of free jazz, the inspiration and improvisation.
      Tomorrow I will review my collection of vinyl and CDs, to remind me what I have of joint appearances Parker/Lewis.


  3. Dos grandes maestros del free en una ejecucion magistral, gracias.