BAKER, LAURIE SCOTT: Gracility (dbl CD)
In the mid to late sixties Baker was much involved with Cardew, AMM, Tudor, the London Improvisers and then the Scratch Orchestra, as well as jobbing in Hair and with Manfred Mann and Alex Harvey, soon falling into the ambit of the so-called Canterbury scene. Moving about then. These are original documentary recordings of 4 performances of Baker's pieces, made between 1969 and 1975 that feature Derek Bailey and Keith Rowe (their only recording together), Gavin Bryars, Evan Parker, Jamie Muir, John Tilbury and the Scratch Orchestra. Whatever else, that makes these important historical documents. The title piece (Baker, Bailey, Briars and Rowe, with their amplifiers turned all the way up and them trying to play quite softly) is 71 minutes long and gives a good flavour of the period, Pibroch, with Evan, is a snippet at 5.57 but very lyrical and exquisite (and not at all like the Evan we know today), Bass, Chants and Cues features a trio of John Tilbury (Lowry organ), Laurie Baker (fretless bass, VCS3 and pedals) and Jaime Muir (Drums) which starts a bit like Terry Riley and ends a lot like Faust - and finally Circle Piece is a rare, good quality, recording of the Scratch Orchestra. The sleeve notes are also interesting since they show the many interconnections that existed at the time between contemporary art music, the free improvisers and fringe rock and pop. It was a moment that didn't last. In its way a gem.