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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Carla Bley / Andy Sheppard / Steve Swallow: Trios

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In Lugano, Switzerland in 2012, pianist Carla Bley, saxophonist Andy Sheppard and bassist Steve Swallow were recorded, and the result is Trios (EMC 2013). This CD is atmospheric and energised. Included are new versions of Bley's original “Utviklingssang" ( “Development Song"), “Vashkar" and the suites “Les Trois Lagons" , “Wildlife," and “The Girl Who Cried Champagne." It marks Bley's departure from the ECM distributed WATT label which has been her platform for the past 40 years, and her first recording for ECM itself.“Utviklingssang" starts out with the simple, haunting melody played on guitar. This melody continues through the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Carla Bley / Andy Sheppard / Steve Swallow: Trios

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In a career more defined by memorable compositions than instrumental acumen, it's easy to forget that Carla Bley may not be the most virtuosic pianist on the planet, but she's a far more than capable one, as evidenced on duo recordings like Are We There Yet? (Watt, 1999), with life partner/bassist Steve Swallow, and Songs With Legs (WATT, 1995), a trio date with longtime collaborator, saxophonist Andy Sheppard--also heard in Bley's larger ensemble of Appearing Nightly (Watt/ECM, 2008) and quartet session, The Lost Chords (Watt/ECM, 2004). On Swallow's recent Into the Woodwork (XtraWATT/ECM, 2013), Bley proved a clever, quirky and ...

BOOK REVIEWS

Amy C. Beal: Carla Bley

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Carla Bley Amy C. Beal Softcover, 114 pages University of Illinois Press ISBN: 9780252078187 2011 Remarkably, this is the first detailed, published study of the career and music of Carla Bley, the distinguished composer, keyboardist, band leader and activist. It is the seventh volume in the University of Illinois' American Composers series, following studies of Lou Harrison, John Cage, Dudley Buck, William Grant Still, Rudolf Friml and Elliott Carter. It is ironic, but also gratifying, that Carla Bley has been published by a university press and that it is ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Carla Bley: Carla's Christmas Carols

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Carla's Christmas Carols? For many, the idea of their favorite jazz artist releasing an album of seasonal songs usually smells of crass commercialism or pure pandering, but leave it to pianist/composer/arranger Carla Bley to produce an album that's as reverentially in the spirit of the season as it gets, while being musically deep enough to fit within her substantial discography with complete relevance.

And it is reverential. Accompanied by longtime partner, bassist Steve Swallow, and the German Partyka Brass Quintet, Bley's contrapuntal arrangement of the opening “O Tannenbaum" begins literally and beautifully; if ever there was ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Carla Bley Big Band: Appearing Nightly

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Appearing Nightly conflates four of the most delightful things in the world--being in a jazz club with white tablecloths and a martini listening to live music played but a few feet away, a big band cooking on stage, the music being played harkening back to jazz of the 1950s, and finally that music refracted through the mind of the inimitable pianist and composer Carla Bley. Anyone who was lucky enough to hear some of this music in a quartet setting at Bley's Song With Legs gig at Birdland in New York City in April, 2008 should find ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Carla Bley Big Band: Appearing Nightly

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It's been five years since Carla Bley last worked with a big band on the politically motivated Looking for America (Watt, 2003). In the intervening years, the composer/bandleader has focused on small ensemble work with The Lost Chords (2004), and a follow-up encounter with trumpeter Paolo Fresu on The Lost Chords Find Paolo Fresu (2007), both on her own Watt label. Appearing Nightly has a more benign purpose than Looking for America--a warm look back at the social but sophisticated New York club scene of the 1950s, where Bley often worked as a cigarette or coat check girl, getting the ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Carla Bley Big Band: Appearing Nightly

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Carla Bley Big Band Appearing Nightly WATT 2008

Bandleader and musical provocateur Carla Bley is the Hector Berlioz of jazz. Her command of her large ensembles is complete and potent. Her composition, arrangement, and adaptation are intelligent with a sophisticated sense of humor. A superb pianist, Bley's true talent lies in her ability to define and then guide an orchestra through her arrangements without veering off into parts unknown. Her relationship with big bands is long lived, beginning in the late 1960s, including the recordings Looking For America (ECM, 2003), The Carla ...



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