One Night In Paris

Derek Bailey / Joëlle Léandre / George Lewis / Evan Parker
28 rue Dunois juillet 1982

As it must be a stone cert that by now, all of the solo works and collaborations involving avant guitarist Derek Bailey have been processed by the recording angel, I took it for granted that …Dunois… was a reissue project sourced from the very bowels of yesteryear’s euro-cottage industry, the cover’s Letraset-like construction somehow adding weight to this assumption. In fact, this first-timer, after being ‘put aside’ for over three decades (the liners don’t allude as to its hiding place…) has been given a home by sound engineer/musician Jean-Marc Foussat, whose ‘Fou’ imprint has also given shelter to Peter Kowald and the Willem Breuker Kollektief amongst other heavy hitters.

After saxist Evan Parker’s Japanese tour, bassist Joëlle’s work on the Cage/Scelsi songbook, and D.B. and trombonist George Lewis’s time served with John Zorn and the Globe Unity Ork respectively, this free, yet strangely percussion-free supergroup convened for two sets during one night in Paris. Both of which are unveiled here in their entirety, in front of what seems to be a fairly small gathering, judging by the scattered and polite applause. It’s a tale of two quite contrasting sets actually. Set one clanks into gear tidily with an exploratory guitar and arco bass duet, but amidst further trio and quartet dialogue, with Evan’s saxophonic flurries and George’s measured brassy outage coming to the fore, lies a joker in the pack in the form of Joëlle’s mock operatic trilling, interspersed with what appears to be a troublesome tickly cough. Of course everything in impro-world is unexpected, that’s the very nature of the beast, but that humourous little incident makes it doubly so.

The second and slightly longer session (at 42.36), opening with a pensive Léandre/Parker exchange, has a more brooding and tightly wound quality – all dark corners and sharp edges – the latter facet naturally coming from the spikey, needling finger actions of a certain Mr. B. Chords and notes meaning nothing to Sheffield’s finest son.

Though every so often I miss the crisp splash of a cymbal and/or the dry rattle of a snare from someone like a Tony Oxley or a John Stevens, that’s a piddling detail. This really is a historical ‘find’ and should of course, be revered accordingly.