The Music Improvisation Company
The Music Improvisation Company was a quartet featuring some of the best jazz and improv players from the UK – Derek Bailey (guitar), Jamie Muir (percussion), Evan Parker (soprano saxophone) and Hugh Davies (electronics) – whose first album, on ECM, chimed with a shift in European free music towards a form of ‘non-idiomatic improvisation’ that feels loosely aligned, in both membership and outcome, with the aims of larger-scale collective improvisations. It’s bracing stuff, the kind of playing for which the word ‘pointillist’ might have been invented, though that undersells the dynamic range here, and on “Untitled No. II”, the quartet works up quite a head of steam. The interplay between Davies and Muir is particularly fascinating, as they seem to act like shadow spirits of Bailey and Parker’s jousting. Christine Jeffrey’s vocal contributions on two tracks, including some delirious explorations on “Untitled No. II,” are never less than compelling.
– Jon Dale