Derek Bailey/Mototeru Takagi

Live at FarOut, Atsug 1987
NoBusiness NBCD 132

Newly discovered recordings from one of the occasional Japanese tours by British guitarist Derek Bailey (1939-2005), these improvisations from 1987 match him with an equally iconoclastic player, soprano saxophonist Mototeru Takagi (1941-2002). Takagi with whom Bailey had recorded in 1978 usually worked with local Free Jazz innovators like Masayuki Takayanagi. But since non-idiomatic improvisation is more of a global language than Esperanto, neither player is out of his element here.

There are points where Bailey and Takagi chug along in broken octaves, playing parallel lines rather than connective ones. However since both are self-possessed, fissures aren’t obvious. As the visitor, Bailey has most of “Duo II” to himself, detouring into pierced chords and crunching echoes as he moves the exposition from andante to allegro. When Takagi joins for the final sequence the interaction becomes higher pitched and more robust. Besides that, the duets take up greater or lesser time, fully abstract except for one anomaly at the end of “Duo I” when the saxophonist slips in a brief Monk quote. Before that Takagi’s piercing soprano trills meet up with first slurred fingering and then ringing guitar flanges from Bailey as he picks apart and reassemble the narrative. Speeding up on this, the lengthiest track, altisssimo squeaks and string hammering confirm the narrative’s intensity, eventually dissolving into final reed whistles and downward string strums.

Sometimes strumming below the bridge, stretching the strings or piercing the sequences with low-pitched stabs, unrepeatable free sounds are Bailey’s only choices. While Takagi also projects whiny squeaks tongue flutters and flattement, inside his playing lurks a melodic core. Sensed rather than heard, this buried lyricism is revealed only subtly. But it informs his improvisations. This differentiates his creativity from Bailey’s and is what makes Live at FarOut more engrossing than a duet by musicians whose ideas are too complementary.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Duo I 2. Duo II 3. Duo III 4. Duo IV

Personnel: Mototeru Takagi (soprano saxophone) and Derek Bailey (guitar)