Category Archives: music essay

Ben Watson’s Derek Bailey and the Story of Free Improvisation

Derek Bailey and the Story of Free Improvisation was published in 2004. Derek Bailey died the following year. Ben Watson’s book is therefore mercifully free of past tense references to its hero. To my mind no one, as a musician … Continue reading

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Robert Wyatt: Different Every Time

You know that saying, the devil is in the detail? I think the devil runs the show, and God is in the detail. —Robert Wyatt* Robert Wyatt’s music has been a source of nourishment for me since the very first … Continue reading

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My Bob Dylan

1976 was the year I discovered music. Not that I hadn’t noticed it before. I had been an enthusiastic member of a Baptist church choir for several years and had even sung solos. But I hungered for something else. My … Continue reading

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Anthony Braxton: It can’t get any better than this

  Earlier this year when the NEA named Anthony Braxton a 2014 Jazz Master, he expressed surprise, noting that for over fifty years the jazz community had ‘pushed him back’. It was indeed a surprise seeing Wynton Marsalis as the … Continue reading

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Albert Ayler in a Spray of Sunflowers

I’m happy to announce that my poem inspired by the life and work of Albert Ayler and his brother Donald has been published in Jerry Jazz Musician. My deep-felt thanks go to Joe Maita for giving this poem a home.

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Growing Up in Public with Lou Reed

I had gotten used to the idea of a world without any more great Lou Reed albums. His public appearance after the liver transplant and a somber comment by Laurie Anderson suggested the end might be near. When it came … Continue reading

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Why I Love Lou Reed

It’s somehow fitting that Lou Reed has passed away a few days before Halloween. Halloween is when children are introduced to evil as well as age, decay and death. It is sugar-coated, of course, so that they can begin the … Continue reading

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