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Jazz Review - Vortices and Angels

Bailey / Butcher & Butcher / Davies

On Vortices And Angels Butcher duets with Bailey on the first two tracks, recorded at North London's Vortex club, and with Davies on the other three tracks, also recorded live, but this time at a church in West London.
In recent years we've heard Bailey in some unexpected contexts on albums like The Last Wave, Mirakle and Guitar, Drums 'n' Bass, so that there is something almost comforting about his continued involvement with this kind of session, in what can now qualify, I guess, as mainstream improv.

For the later generations of free music practitioners, playing with Bailey must be analogous to an astronomer finding a video of the Big Bang: logic suggests there must have been something there before, but there's no concrete evidence of what it was, the appearance of the Joseph Holbrooke 1965 'single' notwithstanding. Bailey's style has no detritus carried over from the other side. He seems to have sprung full-arm'd from his own head.

That doesn't faze Butcher, though. His encounters with Bailey remind me of Roger Corman's The Raven - which, of course, bore no relation to the Poe poem. In the climactic scene Karloff and Price, playing rival wizards, engage in a spell-casting duel.
With their shape-shifting sounds, their flashing, sly, eccentric gestures, Butcher or Bailey might at any moment transform the other (or himself, for that matter) into something scary, wondrous or just plain bizarre.

The Davies/Butcher tracks, as befits their setting perhaps, are less mischievously Mephistopholean and percussive. Etiolated sounds circle and swoop in the stratosphere, or dart down to chatter in tongues. Davies sometimes resorts to a bowed bell, but mostly he sticks to conventional harp, albeit with some unconventional accessories. The duo's dexterity and inventiveness make it difficult to believe that there are only two players. They frequently fool the ear into hearing the shades of other instruments, and there is always, rather paradoxically given that this is 'free music', a strong sense of a fitting resolution when the pieces conclude.

© Barry Witherden - Jazz Review