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Hi-Fi News - Trio Playing

Derek Bailey, John Butcher & Oren Marshall

This disc received a panning in The Wire. David Keenan held it up as prime evidence of the obscurantist and effete nature of 'bourgeois' Free Improvisation compared to the vitality of 'black' Free Jazz. It was just such reduction of players to racial identities that caused Braxton to fall out with Shepp in the 1970s. Actually, by refusing to emulate American models and improvising this spectral analysis, Derek Bailey, John Butcher and Oren Marshall show more respect for the legacy of Coltrane than tin-pot copyists.

The fact that they are outstripping classical composers in underfunded, pub-upstairs venues does more to question establishment values than Keenan's racial rhetoric. And this is a fantastic record. Oren Marshall keeps up a steady stream of intervals against which Butcher and Bailey measure the purest musical thoughts. Extreme instrumental skill is compressed into unshowy yet breathtaking moves. Trio Playing will be a reference point for any serious attempt to push music towards the future. And if that's not what 'jazz' is about, then, comrades - it's died on us.

© Ben Watson - Hi-Fi News