Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Arcana: The Last Wave

In an effort to get the most out of Derek Bailey’s reduced touring schedule, producer John Zorn conceived a series of recordings that would present him in a variety of unexpected settings, all of the traditional guitar/bass/drums format. Thus we have Bailey teamed with, of all people, Tony Williams, and Bill Laswell, a bassist with funk/fusion/new music credentials. The result is raucous, unique music that sounds like it’s presented in the order recorded, and one hears, or imagines to hear, the musicians getting a handle on things as they progress. Certainly it’s a while before Williams seems to adjust to the fact that Bailey isn’t going to react to the nasty funk grooves that he and Laswell set up in any obvious way. Of course once the drummer has reached back to call on instincts we haven’t heard him use since his mid-’60s records with Dolphy, Rivers, Shorter, et. al., Derek starts insinuating some kind of weird funk himself. Laswell makes a few choices that might be open to criticism on their own, but it’s all grist for the maelstrom here. His presence provides the glue for what I think is an extraordinarily successful set, one of Derek’s best, but really a significant group improvisation.

Originally Published