Wednesday, September 13, 2017
Convergences, Divergences & Affinities- The Second wave of Free Improvisation in England, 1973-1979 by Trevor Barre
Last year I read and reviewed Trevor’s previous book entitled, Beyond Jazz, about the first wave of free improvisational music in England in the 60s and early 70s. This was a very interesting book and I liked it a lot. See review link. I was familiar with a bit of the background due my friend Doug sending me tapes of AMM and SME. While the other book had a certain format and flow, Trevor has taken a bit different approach here. A lot of the players from the 1st wave or 1st generation of free music still play a large part of the scene in the 2nd wave and dominate the first half of the book (Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, Barry Guy, Paul Rutherford, etc..)… I was familiar with a few new players like Lol Coxhill but not a lot of the others like Steve Beresford and Terry Day.
By the time period this book covers, there was a lot more experimenting and improv going on in rock music as well and this type of stuff laid the groundwork for acts like Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire and others in the UK as well when the 80s rolled around. He speaks a bit about this as well in the book.
While the first book focused on London, there was a growing scene in other cites in the UK and each of these cities also gets special mention in a specific chapter. Trevor also highlights the women in the scene, which did exist and one in particular (Janice Christianson) played a huge role, not as a player but doing a lot of other things for the scene.
Trevor could put more of his personal insight into this book, as around 1973 was when he was first going to see these people perform, which is great. It turns out that the small scene had a few cool publications like Musics and there is an entire chapter dedicated to going through the highlights of each and every issue of this underground mag. It seems that Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth) has made a deluxe book reprinting each and every issue. There is also a chapter on all the important record labels that would release this kind of music. Incus was still one of the most important ones.
For me, I have a hard time to listen to some of this stuff at home (he also admits this is best seen live) but really enjoy seeing these kind of creative people performing live. Trevor has a great site below where you can get his book but also keep up on all the most important stuff going on in this scene by reading his blog and his excellent selection of links (on the right).