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A short solo electric guitar concert filmed in the Ribera district of Barcelona in 2004, "thumbs" referring to the techniques Bailey developed to counter motor neuron disease.

Bailey, Derek
Barcelona Chronicles: All Thumbs [DVD]

Bailey, Derek: Barcelona Chronicles: All Thumbs [DVD] (Incus)
Label: Incus    
Released in: Great Britain    

"The British free improvising guitarist Derek Bailey relocated to Barcelona in 2003. During his time in this vibrant city there were numerous musical meetings.

All Thumbs was a private solo performance initiated by Andy Davies which took place in July 2004 on a rooftop somewhere in the Ribera district.

This recording is released on Incus Records under the umbrella of “The Barcelona Chronicles”. These recordings document Derek's new approach to his instrument whilst dealing with the complex and progressive limitations caused by Motor Neurone Disease."-Incus

"[...} All Thumbs, a reference to the way he was forced to play after Motor Neurone Disease made it difficult for him to hold a plectrum for long. Indeed the film opens with Derek picking at the guitar with a plectrum, only for him to stop playing after a while and after turning to the camera to explain, and to give the piece its title, he set about playing using only the thumb on his right hand because the next two fingers were affected by the disease, making it hard to grip the plectrum. For many musicians the impact of such a physical setback would cause them to give up the guitar, Derek being Derek turns to the camera here and says “I can’t grip the plectrum, so I’ll just play without one”

The short set that follows is beautiful, soft, slow and as it progresses through its remaining twenty minutes increasingly spare and poignant. Of course watching this film is an experience tinged with no end of emotive nostalgia that will colour my appreciation of the music somewhat, but then so what? Derek Bailey’s music was always about the man and his life as much as anything else, and in my opinion it would be wrong to separate his music from its impact on me both before and after his death. The camera work is well done, simple yet revealing, capturing little moments,- the uncertain shake of Derek’s hand through to the wicked grin at one moment and the raise of a wild, wayward eyebrow when something in the music surprised even Derek himself. It is a very simple, very affecting, beautiful little film of one masterful musician, who, when faced with the challenges life throws at him found himself with only one possible route to take- he improvised. [...]"-Richard Pinnell

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Related Categories of Interest:


Improvised Music
European Improv, Free Jazz & Related
Bailey, Derek
Guitarists, &c.
London & UK Free Improvisation Scene
Free Improvisation
Quintet Recordings

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Product Information:

NTSC, All Regions

Label: Incus
Catalog ID: INCUS 002DVD
Squidco Product Code: 11826

Format: DVD
Condition: New
Released: 2009
Country: Great Britain
Packaging: DVD snap case
Recorded in the Ribera district of Barcelona, Spain in the summer of 2008.


Derek Bailey-electric guitar

Andy Davies-director, camera work

Robert Iolini-camera work

:;ios Escartin-camerawork

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Track Listing:

1. The rooftop concert 23:03