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ISKRA 1903 (Rutherford / Bailey / Guy): Chapter One (1970-2) [3 CDs] (Emanem)

A reissue of Emanem 4301, a classic concert and studio performances from '70-'72 by the innovative trio of Paul Rutherford (trombone, piano) Derek Bailey (guitar) and Barry Guy (double bass), which was a much expanded reissue of the early Incus releaes 3/4 of the same name.

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product information:

UPC: 5030243531127

Label: Emanem
Catalog ID: 5311
Squidco Product Code: 20880

Format: 3 CDs
Condition: New
Released: 2015
Country: Great Britain
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold 3 Panels
Tracks 1-1 to 2-3 recorded on September 2, 1970 live at ICA, London

Tracks 2-4 to 2-10 recorded on May 3, 1972 in London.

Tracks 3-1 to 3-3 recorded in 1971 in London (previously unissued).

Track 3-4 recorded in Donaueschingen on October 21, 1972.

Track 3-5 recorded on November 1, 1972 in Berlin.

Track 3-6 recorded on October 23 or 24, 1972 in Bremen. Originally issued in 1972 as Incus LP 3, and in 1972 as Incus LP 4, with additional material from 1971 and 1972.


Paul Rutherford-trombone, piano

Derek Bailey-guitar

Barry Guy-doublebass

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track listing:

CD 1

1. Improvisation 1 21:08

2. Improvisation 2 5:43

3. Improvisation 3 11:41

4. Improvisation 4 5:10

5. Improvisation 0 25:21

CD 2

1. Offcut 3 1:45

2. Offcut 1 4:31

3. Offcut 2 11:28

4. Improvisation 5 6:00

5. Improvisation 6 10:53

6. Improvisation 7 4:34

7. Improvisation 8 6:26

8. Improvisation 9 3:44

9. Improvisation 10 3:14

10. Improvisation 11 7:34

CD 3

1. Extra 1 7:52

2. Extra 2 11:36

3. Extra 3 6:52

4. On Tour 1 13:45

5. On Tour 2 12:52

6. On Tour 3 12:34

Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
London & UK Free Improvisation Scene
Bailey, Derek
Trio Recordings
EMANEM & psi
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sample the album:

descriptions, reviews, &c.

"Paul Rutherford formed Iskra 1903 in 1970 with Derek Bailey and Barry Guy. All three musicians had worked together in larger groups, starting off with the 1966/7 edition of the Spontaneous Music Ensemble that can be heard on WITHDRAWAL (Emanem 4020), waiting to be reissued). However, they had a strong desire to work as a percussionless trio. It's not that they were or are anti-percussion - each of them have subsequently worked in various settings with numerous percussionists - it's just that they felt a need for this sort of instrumentation. (Rutherford, Guy and occasionally Bailey had worked in the 1967 edition of Amalgam - an early improvising group without a drummer.)

Rutherford named the group after 'Iskra' (the Russian word for spark) which was the paper that Lenin edited before the Russian Revolution. The '19' indicates 20th century music, and the '03' is the number of performers. There were occasions when the group became Iskra 1904 with the addition of Evan Parker, while Rutherford's larger groups have been known as Iskra 1912 and Iskrastra. (Any suggestion that the name has anything to do with the year 1903 is simply unresearched conjecture.)

The 1970 ICA concert was one of their earliest performances as a trio. Neither the group nor its members had quite acquired all the distinctive characteristics that were reached in subsequent years. However, one could hardly say that this mostly laidback and sublime music was immature. One unique aspect was Rutherford's extensive use of piano, something he was experimenting with at the time - he even did some solo gigs as a pianist.

It was originally intended to issue music from this concert on an LP on the Turtle label. Improvisation 1 and (the later named) Improvisation 0 were selected for that release. Unfortunately, Turtle stopped production before this LP came about, so nothing appeared until late 1972, when Improvisations 1-4 appeared as half of an Incus double LP.

Additional material from this concert subsequently turned up on a tape labelled "ICA Offcuts". After all these years it is not possible to ascertain exactly where these extracts were cut off from - they can just be listened to as three bonuses in their own right at the start of the second CD. (Around this time, the trio recorded somewhat subdued music for a film, which can be heard as BUZZ SOUNDTRACK on Emanem 4066 - not as free-wheeling as the music in this collection, but still very worthwhile.)

The first edition of Iskra 1903 arguably reached its peak two years later. In addition to all the evidence on this CD set, there is a fine 1972 Goldsmith's College concert recording that was recently issued as GOLDSMITHS on Emanem 5013. The fully fledged 1972 studio session heard here was recorded to make up the other half of the double Incus LP.

Unfortunately, it has not been possible to locate the tapes for Improvisations 2-11, so these pieces had to be taken off the Incus LPs. In spite of using some noise reduction, the inherent limitations of vinyl are noticeable. However, this music is too good and too important not to be available again.

The previously unissued Extra studio session that starts the third CD is unusual in that all three musicians can be heard both acoustically and amplified. As usual, the two string players used volume control pedals to alternate between the two modes. Uniquely on this occasion, the trombone was alternately played into two mikes, one of which went directly to the mixing desk, the other which went to an amplifier and speaker which was in turn recorded using another mike. There is acoustic/amplified separation for all the instruments in the resultant stereo picture.

The final three pieces come from late 1972 when the Musicians' Co-operative was On Tour in Germany. As well as the LJCO, several small groups performed at each concert, so each was allocated about a quarter of an hour. The surviving recordings are not in pristine condition, but, as before, the excellence of the lively music overcomes that.

This first version of Iskra 1903 lasted about four years, during which time they were rightly considered to be one of the very finest groups around. It was, perhaps, the last long-term fixed-personnel group that Bailey worked in. When Rutherford reformed Iskra 1903 in about 1977, it was with Philipp Wachsmann and Barry Guy - another superlative trio that performed sporadically for about 15 years (as can be heard on CHAPTER TWO from 1981/3 on Emanem 4303, the 1988/9 collection SOUTH ON THE NORTHERN on Emanem 5203, FRANKFURT 1991 on Emanem 4051 and their eponymous CD on Maya 9502)."-Martin Davidson (2000 revised 2015), from the liner notes

Artist Biographies:

"Paul William Rutherford (29 February 1940 - 5 August 2007) was an English free improvising trombonist. Born in Greenwich, South East London, Rutherford initially played saxophone but switched to trombone. During the 1960s, he taught at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

In 1970, Rutherford, guitarist Derek Bailey and bassist Barry Guy formed the improvising group Iskra 1903, which lasted until 1973. The formation was documented on a double album from Incus, later reissued with much bonus material on the 3-CD set Chapter One (Emanem, 2000). A film soundtrack was separately released as Buzz Soundtrack. Iskra 1903 was one of the earliest free improvising groups to omit a drummer/percussionist, permitting the players to explore a range of textures and dynamics which set it apart from such other contemporary improvising ensembles as SME and AMM. The group's unusual name is the Russian word for "spark"; it was the title of the Iskra revolutionary newspaper edited by Lenin. The "1903" designation means "20th century music for trio"; occasionally Evan Parker played with the group (Iskra 1904) and Rutherford also at one point assembled a 12-piece ensemble called, inevitably, Iskra 1912. The group was later revived with Philipp Wachsmann replacing Bailey, a phase of the group's life that lasted from roughly 1977 to 1995; its earlier work is documented on Chapter Two (Emanem, 2006) and its final recordings were issued on Maya (Iskra 1903) and Emanem (Frankfurt 1991).

Rutherford also played with Globe Unity Orchestra, London Jazz Composer's Orchestra, Centipede, the Mike Westbrook Orchestra, and the Orckestra, a merger of avant-rock group Henry Cow, the Mike Westbrook Brass Band and folk singer Frankie Armstrong. He also played a very small number of gigs with Soft Machine. He is perhaps most famous for solo trombone improvisations. His album The Gentle Harm of the Bourgeoisie is a landmark recording in solo trombone and his 1983 Trio album Gheim, recorded at the Bracknell Jazz Festival is another acclaimed work.

Rutherford died of cirrhosis of the liver and a ruptured aorta on 5 August 2007, aged 67."

-Wikipedia (

"Derek Bailey (29 January 1930 - 25 December 2005) was an English avant-garde guitarist and leading figure in the free improvisation movement.

Bailey was born in Sheffield, England. A third-generation musician, he began playing the guitar at the age of ten, initially studying music with his teacher and Sheffield City organist C. H. C. Biltcliffe, an experience that he did not enjoy, and guitar with his uncle George Wing and John Duarte. As an adult he worked as a guitarist and session musician in clubs, radio, dance hall bands, and so on, playing with many performers including Morecambe and Wise, Gracie Fields, Bob Monkhouse and Kathy Kirby, and on television programs such as Opportunity Knocks. Bailey's earliest foray into 'what could be called free improvised music' was in 1953 with two other guitarists in their shared flat in Glasgow. He was also part of a Sheffield-based trio founded in 1963 with Tony Oxley and Gavin Bryars called "Joseph Holbrooke" (named after the composer, whose work they never actually played). Although originally performing relatively "conventional" modal, harmonic jazz this group became increasingly free in direction.

Bailey moved to London in 1966, frequenting the Little Theatre Club run by drummer John Stevens. Here he met many other like-minded musicians, such as saxophonist Evan Parker, trumpet player Kenny Wheeler and double bass player Dave Holland. These players often collaborated under the umbrella name of the Spontaneous Music Ensemble, recording the seminal album Karyobin for Island Records in 1968. In this year Bailey also formed the Music Improvisation Company with Parker, percussionist Jamie Muir and Hugh Davies on homemade electronics, a project that continued until 1971. He was also a member of the Jazz Composer's Orchestra and Iskra 1903, a trio with double-bass player Barry Guy and tromboneist Paul Rutherford that was named after a newspaper published by the Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin.

In 1970, Bailey founded the record label Incus with Tony Oxley, Evan Parker and Michael Walters. It proved influential as the first musician-owned independent label in the UK. Oxley and Walters left early on; Parker and Bailey continued as co-directors until the mid-1980s, when friction between the men led to Parker's departure. Bailey continued the label with his partner Karen Brookman until his death in 2005[citation needed].

Along with a number of other musicians, Bailey was a co-founder of Musics magazine in 1975. This was described as "an impromental experivisation arts magazine" and circulated through a network of like-minded record shops, arguably becoming one of the most significant jazz publications of the second half of the 1970s, and instrumental in the foundation of the London Musicians Collective.

1976 saw Bailey instigate Company, an ever-changing collection of like-minded improvisors, which at various times has included Anthony Braxton, Tristan Honsinger, Misha Mengelberg, Lol Coxhill, Fred Frith, Steve Beresford, Steve Lacy, Johnny Dyani, Leo Smith, Han Bennink, Eugene Chadbourne, Henry Kaiser, John Zorn, Buckethead and many others. Company Week, an annual week-long free improvisational festival organised by Bailey, ran until 1994.

In 1980, he wrote the book Improvisation: Its Nature and Practice. This was adapted by UK's Channel 4 into a four-part TV series in the early '90s, edited and narrated by Bailey.

Bailey died in London on Christmas Day, 2005. He had been suffering from motor neurone disease."

-Wikipedia (

Other Releases With These Artists:
Dean, Elton Quintet
Welcomet - Live in Brazil, 1986
Rutherford, Paul / Sabu Toyozumi
The Conscience
Rutherford, Paul / Sabu Toyozumi
The Conscience [VINYL]
Bailey, Derek / Joelle Leandre / George Lewis / Evan Parker
28 Rue Dunois Juillet 1982
(Fou Records)
Kowald, Peter Quintet
Peter Kowald Quintet [VINYL]
(Cien Fuegos)
Spontaneous Music Orchestra
Search & Reflect (1973-81) [2 CDs]
Chadbourne, Eugene
Boogie With The Hook
Spontaneous Music Ensemble
Withdrawal (1966/7)[REISSUE]
Bailey, Derek / John Tilbury
Playing with a Dead Person [VINYL]
Brotzmann, Peter Sextet/ Quartet
Nipples [VINYL]
(Cien Fuegos)
Rutherford, Paul Trio
Gheim - live at Bracknell 1983
Spontaneous Music Ensemble
Oliv & Familie (1968-9)
Bailey, Derek / Trevor Watts / John Stevens
Dynamics of the Impromptu
Rutherford, Paul
Chicago 2002
Bailey, Derek
Fairly Early with Postscripts
Rutherford, Paul
The Gentle Harm of the Bourgeoisie
Rutherford, Paul and Paul Rogers
Various Artists
Freedom of the City 2002 - small groups [2 CDs]
Various Artists
Freedom of the City 2001 - small groups [2 CDs]
ISKRA 1903
South on the Northern (1988/9) [2 CDs]
Bailey, Derek & Simon H. Fell
The Complete 15th August 2001
Spontaneous Music Ensemble
Challenge (1966-7)
Schlippenbach, Alexander Von
The Living Music [VINYL]
(Cien Fuegos)
Butcher, John
Vortices & Angels
Stevens / Rutherford / Parker / Guy
One Four and Two Twos (1978/79/92)
Rutherford, Paul & George Haslam with the Samuli Mikkonen Trio
Raahe '99
ISKRA 1903
Rutherford / Muller / Eisenstadt
The Zone
Bailey, Derek
More 74
LeBaron, Anne
Baker, Duck
The Ducks Palace
Rutherford, Paul
Tetralogy 2CD
Bailey, Derek
Barcelona Chronicles: All Thumbs [DVD]
Bailey, Derek & Agusti Fernandez
A Silent Dance
Spontaneous Music Ensemble & Orchestra
Trio & Triangle
Iskra 1903
Buzz Soundtrack
Bailey, Derek
Spontaneous Music Ensemble
Frameworks (1968-73)
ISKRA 1903 (Rutherford, Paul / Wachsmann, Philipp / Guy, Barry)
Chapter Two, 1981-1983 [3 CDs]
Various Artists
Freedom of the City Festival 2005 [2 CDs]
Bailey, Derek
Carpal Tunnel
Dunmall, Paul Octet
(Clean Feed)
Various Artists
Freedom of the City 2004 - small groups [2 CDs]
Dunmall, Paul
I Wish You Peace
Coxhill, Lol / Mueller, Torsten / Rutherford, Paul
Gaines, Will & Bailey, Derek
Rappin & Tappin
Bailey, Derek / Berthiaume, Antoine / Frith, Fred
(Ambiances Magnetiques)
Bailey, Derek
Bailey, Derek
Pieces For Guitar 1966 - 67
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