Derek Bailey is one of the most enigmatic figures free improvisation has produced. His impenetrably charismatic music might only be matched by pianist Cecil Taylor (with whom heís performed some remarkable duets). As one of the founders of Incus Records and a fixture on the European and international scene, heís been a central part of the development of free music in the post-Coltrane years. His work to divorce improvisation from the jazz language even led him to write a remarkable book, Improvisation: Its Nature and Practice.
His evocative guitar work grew from playing conventional jazz guitar in the 1950s, and in the í60s was a part of two seminal British free music groups: Joseph Holbrooks (with drummer Tony Oxley and bassist Gavin Bryars) and the Spontaneous Music Ensemble (initially with saxophonist Trevor Watts and drummer John Stevens, the group later included saxophonist Evan Parker, trumpeter Kenny Wheeler and bassist Dave Holland). A tireless nature has led him to work not only with many of the most important figures in experimental and innovative music (Anthony Braxton, Han Bennink, Steve Lacy, George Lewis, John Zorn, Joelle Leandre, Ikue Mori, Pat Metheny and Susie Ibarra, to name but a few), but to find such projects as working with drumíníbass mixer DJ Ninj, reading poetry and letters while accompanying himself with impressionistic guitar sounds and doing concerts with a tap dancer. Bailey is an explorer and an innovator, restless and rewarding.