Company History 1
Derek Bailey formed COMPANY in 1976, ‘ Not only its specializations but the increasingly diverse nature of freely improvised music came to attract me, and it was in order to take advantage of – plunder – its expanding resources that I formed Company ’.
It’s an association of improvising players – not a fixed group but an assortment of musicians who come together in various combinations from time to time. The first Company Week was in 1977 and, with a couple of exceptions, was an annual event in London until 1995. Since then, Company events have also taken place in many other parts of the world, in Hakushu (Japan) in Chattanooga, New York, Marseille and various other places.
The earlier events, in ’77 & 78, drew their membership largely from improvisors who, although not sharing formal music making relationships, would be familiar with, or at least aware of, each other’s work. Later versions of Company looked to recruit players from virtually any part of the musical spectrum.
In ’80 & ’81, the more theatrical tendencies apparent in improvising circles at that time turned up in Company : a clown, a dancer, performers into performance (flashing limbs – flying water – confrontations with the police – a world BEYOND TECHNOLOGY !!!!!!!!!!! ). This was followed by a period in which non-improvisors, people who were not primarily, sometimes not at all, involved in improvisation were invited, and for a year or two it was common to find both improvisors and people who described themselves as non-improvisors improvising together. And, as powerbooks and computers succeeded shakuhachis and komungos, subsequent trends were reflected, sometimes anticipated, in Company.
Normally, there will be 9 –11 people on each event but sometimes much larger numbers have taken part; in 1988, 29 people, in 1990, 34.
Throughout, the structure and intention of Company has remained the same. Everything is designed to avoid as far as possible any preconceptions as to what the music might be and to make improvisation a necessity.
COMPANY is about mutual music-making and, at times demands the sacrifice of individual preferences. It calls for musical generosity, curiousity and sensitivity, the ability to respond instinctively and constructively to new and unfamiliar situations. Derek Bailey.
A fuller account of Company (and Company Week 91) is in “Improvisation; Its Nature and Practise in Music “. pps 133-139 which is available for purchase in the BOOKS section.