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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As Heard in The Distance, 22 Sept. 2003
No Longer Used - See all my reviews
This review is from: Ballads (Audio CD)
Derek Bailey is the world heavy weight champion of Free guitar playing and a whole CD of ballads is not it would seem an obvious choice for Mr Bailey but it works.
Each track has the trademark spidery fingerings the scratch and clatter of random chording but each track keeps its identity, it's like hearing your favorite songs at a distance through the distortions of everyday life.
It may well be a CD of covers but you have never heard them like this before.
This is Bailey at his irreverent/reverent best.
Highly recommended
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Derek Bailey - Ballads, 28 Feb. 2007
Mr. S. Reynell (Sheffield UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Ballads (Audio CD)
A fascinating idea from John Zorn; to get the leading improvising guitarist in the world to go back to his origins and play classic jazz ballads. The result is a one-off hybrid, with the spiky angular style Bailey had developed over decades of free improvisation working nicely when applied to conventional melodies.

However for those who enjoy the abstract atonality of Bailey's usual playing, the tunefulness will probably be a disappontment. For me personally, although interesting, it doesn't have the edge or beauty of his other solo albums.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Ballads but not as we know them Jim, 21 Feb. 2013
Smitty Werbenjaegermanjensen (real name) (Thread rehab facility 37) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ballads (Audio CD)
Derek Bailey was an amazing guitar player. He managed to eschew and avoid any standard way of playing the guitar thanks to his deep interests in free jazz. What this means is that any album that he plays on will have the guitar played in a way that few others have ever tried to emulate, or even show interest in learning.

Free jazz is not mindless rambling, it is a clearly thought out approach to playing that requires knowledge and an awareness of all that is going on around the perfomer. If you learn to play the guitar you will be encouraged to learn scales(essential!), chord patterns and standard rhythms. Most folk learn to play repetitive passages, standard tunes, musical licks etc..... I learned the 12 bar blues format, so that whilst I may not be playing the blues the progressions I use are based around that format. Breaking away from it and doing something else is incredibly difficult. Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Jerry Garcia and others use this format, so whilst on one level they are improvising they are not "free", they are using everything they know about and inside that format to create something special.

Free jazz is to an extent avoiding all of that. It is striking out into the unexpected, the unknown and is incredibly difficult to stay focussed on avoid the ingrained. This ability does not come without years of practice and great self discipline.

Derel Bailey was the greatest free jazz guitar player that ever came out of the UK, so to find him taking on an album of standard ballads might be a surprise. It might seem like a step backwards. However, Derek takes these standards and after establishing a quick sketch of the melody/identity of the tune heads off out into his "discomfort zone". One one had it shows that he could play the standards as well as anyone else and yet still pull off these amazing disquieting solos.

The album was recorded at the behest of john Zorn in Zorns studios, so sound quality is first class, over a short period of time, a day or so if memory serves correctly.

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Ballads by Derek Bailey (Audio CD - 2009)
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