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Joseph Holbrooke Trio: The Moat Recordings

Joseph Holbrooke Trio: The Moat Recordings

Release Date:2006
Genre:Free Jazz

By Michael Crumsho | Posted 5/31/2006

Though it primarily played lunchtime gigs in a Sheffield pub and left nothing more than 10 minutes of a rehearsal tape as its recorded legacy, the Joseph Holbrooke Trio’s brief mid-1960s existence still achieved legendary status in free-improvisation circles. This was, after all, the early vehicle that drummer Tony Oxley and late guitarist Derek Bailey used to fight their way out of modal jazz structure and into the type of nonidiomatic improvisation for which they are now revered. It was also Gavin Bryars’ last go-round on bass, an instrument he would mothball in order to focus on a revered career as a composer.

After a 30-year hibernation, the trio reconvened in 1998 at the behest of a German radio station and, finding its fire suitably intact, booked three days at Moat Studios in London. Bailey comes out swinging here, lobbing atonal six-string thrusts that Oxley parries with his limber, clattering percussion. But it’s Bryars’ work that genuinely surprises—his understated bass lines form the oft-melodic backbone around which his band mates bob and weave. Even though it would have been nice to hear the group’s original progression—from simply playing the changes to ripping them apart—The Moat Recordings is impressive in its own right, spacious and pristinely recorded.

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