Friday, February 15, 2008

Back Door... Derek Bailey... John Zorn...

I knew a guy a long time ago – Steve Williams, wonder where he is now? – who told me that he used to go out to a pub on the Yorkshire moors – the Blakey Inn – no relation to Art Blakey, I don't think, but a nice thought - to see this band, Back Door. I'd heard of them before (Steve and I met in Dublin in the mid-seventies), I bought the vinyl but can't remember where – London or Dublin or – wherever... but unluckily never saw them live. Anyway – when I was listening to Megaphone Man last week while writing my review, the way the bass functions in that trio reminded me of Back Door's Colin Hodgkinson - Back Door – in one of those weird synchronicities, as I type those two words I am listening to the Akron Family – just singing 'The sun's going to shine in my back door someday.' Wonder if there is a connection. Spooky... Anyway... this is Ron Aspery on alto, Colin Hodgkinson on electric bass and Tony Hicks on drums playing 'Vienna Breakdown.' With a sound that foreshadows, for me, Ornette Coleman's later Prime Time musics – this was recorded in 1972 . I don't suppose there is any chance that Ornette dropped in to The Blakey Arms for a pint? Looking for Art? Just had an absurd flash of various American jazz musicians wandering around the North of England in the seventies... Ornette spotted in to the Rover's Return – 'Eh, Jack, in't that Ornette Coleman?' 'Nay, Vera, it's freejazz night down the Legion next week.' Eeh, our Vera - sadly missed... (A tribute to the inimitable Vera Duckworth and her bereaved spouse. See, Murray, I win the bet!). Hodgkinson was a monster bass player – hence the connection in my head to Neil Fountain of Megaphone Man. All the tracks on the album are short, sharp bursts of energy that cross-wired jazz, blues and rock into a unique sound. Ron Aspery unfortunately passed away in 2003 – there is a long and fascinating interview with him here...

Haven't put up any Derek Bailey for a while, it seems... Here he is with Japanese band Ruins, belting through 'QuinkaMatta,' from 1995. Derek starts off on shards of electric guitar - then suddenly Ruins crash in at high speed, like the Spanish Inquisition. ('No one expects the Spanish Inquisition.' Enough of the jokes, already...). Furious bass and drums - Ruins compress so much into such a short space of time. A couple of repeated bass figures open up the density of sound here and there, setting up a groove at one point - that Derek gloriously surfs over...

Thrumming bass and cymbal-led drums as the two horns weave through the theme. John Zorn with his Masada cohort – Dave Douglas, Greg Cohen and Joey baron – playing 'Piram.' From the album: 'Masada Vol 2: Beit.' For me, a track of stunning brilliance, everything locking into place... Baron is a powerhouse, driving the band on remorselessly. Both horns take care of business, solo or chasing each other in dizzying flights. A swift Google of 'Piram' yields:

'Meaning: like a wild ass...
a king of Jarmuth, a royal city of the Canaanites, who was conquered and put to death by Joshua (10:3, 23, 26).'

Not sure if this was before or after he fit the battle of Jericho... But this track kicks like 'a wild ass.'

A swirling deep dark bass loops vertiginously, soon joined by some indeterminable rustling shard and high swooping electronics... Wolf Eyes! Track 4 from 'Mugger.' Power electronics/improv at its most electronically powerful -yet there is always a shaping intelligence to this band, however rough the going gets... this will test your speakers... If they are good enough for Anthony Braxton, they are good enough for me...

Back Door
Ron Asprey (as) Colin Hodgkinson (el-b) Tony Hicks (d)
Vienna Breakdown


Derek Baily/Ruins
Derek Bailey (g) Masuda Ryuichi (b) Yoshida Tatsuya (d, v)


John Zorn/Masada
John Zorn (as) Dave Douglas (t) Greg Cohen (b) Joey Baron (d)


Wolf Eyes (Aaron Dilloway, Nate Young, John Olson)
Untitled track 2



Anonymous said...

sweet :)

Rod... said...

... I relish a challenge!

Jon-A said...

Kinda doubt that Ornette was a Back Door follower. However, Return To Forever shared a residency at Ronnie Scott's Club in London just before Stanley Clarke got busy on the electric bass. Always wondered if that was cause and effect...

Rod Warner said...

Well, it was more a bit of whimsy than analytical theorising! I had this ridiculous image in my head of Ornette wandering the North... But the info about Stanley Clarke is interesting...