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The Music Improvisation Company (1968-1971) [1976]

Saxophonist Evan Parker and guitarist Derek Bailey met while both played with the Spontaneous Music Ensemble in the late '60s. In 1968 they combined with percussionist Jamie Muir and keyboardist Hugh Davies to form the Music Improvisation Company, one of England's seminal free improvisation units. Although the musicians were conversant in jazz styles, the music made by the MIC was essentially and intentionally non-idiomatic, drawing upon any and all elements of musical thought and given voice in the moment. The resulting music was dissonant, discontinuous, and ultimately in the vanguard of improvised music. With drummer Tony Oxley, Parker and Bailey formed Incus Records in 1970. The label documented MIC's music on the album Music Improvisation Company 1968-1971; the title reflects the group's brief lifespan. However, in 1976 Bailey formed Company, a similar enterprise with rotating personnel that has included a plethora of creative musicians from around the world. Anthony Braxton, Steve Lacy, Fred Frith, and Bill Laswell are just a few of the many and varied musicians to participate. In 1977 the ensemble held the first of its "Company Weeks," a week-long festival of improvised music featuring different guest musicians every night. The festival became an annual event. --- Chris Kelsey


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