Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

391

Paul Bley: Barrage

Lyn Horton By

Sign in to view read count
Recorded a year earlier than the previous ESP re-released Paul Bley Trio session, Closer (ESP Disk, 2008), Barrage takes an approach that tends toward the frenetic. In fact, judging from the very beginning of the record when the trumpet and sax synchronize in a group of short phrase spurts ("Batterie"), the music seems to deconstruct bebop, go on diverse tangents and then conclude in a synchronous reprise. Such a pattern exists throughout all of the pieces on the record.



The intensity of the rapid-fire pace of bebop sticks around. Even when pianist Bley assumes the lead, or bassist Eddie Gomez splurges in a solo, or drummer Milford Graves splits off the mainline, the tempo remains unchanged. The texture seems to be the focus ("Ictus," "Around Again," "Barrage").



When the music actually does slow down a bit, each instrument establishes its own sonic principles, albeit contributing to the group effort. Bassist Gomez in "Ictus" and trumpeter Johnson and reedist Marshall Allen in "And Now the Queen" shift the tide by shaping the music so it can breathe a little.



But the pace is omnipresent. The musicians sustain their bebopifying on "Around Again." The vast difference between the music's bebop nature and what it becomes is that the musical intent defines itself in terms of the phraseology. The melody comes through only when instruments synchronize and the remainder falls into the realm of the abstract. Allen pushes his tenor to extremes within the set of parameters posed by the compositions; he does not go beyond them, as again on "Around Again."



Trumpeter Johnson and Allen hand the music back and forth, emphasizing how the exchange of phrasing works ("Walking Woman," "Barrage"). Graves and Bley perform at the same exchange rate, however, keeping it light the whole way through ("Walking Woman, "Barrage"). This "just-below-line" intensity, demonstrated by the steadily struck pizzicato energy of the bass and the tender, though tight and direct drum work ("Barrage"), characterize the modernization of the music.



As composer, Carla Bley (then Paul's wife) has lifted the music that Charlie Parker and his cohorts carved out and blasted it into a bevy of abstractions. Arpeggiations on the horns and scattered polyphony from the piano and drums transform the music to fit a completely contemporary framework. That framework seems to transcend its historical backdrop of hard bop and cordon off a zone all its own. It is too bad that the technology presented by the format for vinyl restrict the improvisations from going further off into space. This record exemplifies some defining moments for distinguishing the purpose of future music, not only from any musician in this group, but also among the numbers of musicians whose work at that time altered the direction in which music would go. Where freedom of expression overrode expectations and music aligned itself appropriately with human instinct.


Track Listing: Batterie; Ictus; And Now the Queen; Around Again; Walking Woman; Barrage.

Personnel: Marshall Allen: alto sax; Dewey Johnson: trumpet; Paul Bley: piano; Eddie Gomez: bass; Milford Graves: percussion.

Title: Barrage | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: ESP Disk


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Bad Hombre CD/LP/Track Review Bad Hombre
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 12, 2017
Read Aladdin's Dream CD/LP/Track Review Aladdin's Dream
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 12, 2017
Read Glow of Benares CD/LP/Track Review Glow of Benares
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: December 12, 2017
Read Magic Circle CD/LP/Track Review Magic Circle
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: December 12, 2017
Read A Gathering Foretold CD/LP/Track Review A Gathering Foretold
by Geannine Reid
Published: December 12, 2017
Read Swinging In The Holidays CD/LP/Track Review Swinging In The Holidays
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 11, 2017
Read "Far From Over" CD/LP/Track Review Far From Over
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 28, 2017
Read "Thick As Thieves" CD/LP/Track Review Thick As Thieves
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 22, 2017
Read "Alto Gusto" CD/LP/Track Review Alto Gusto
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 20, 2017
Read "Freedom is Space for the Spirit" CD/LP/Track Review Freedom is Space for the Spirit
by Budd Kopman
Published: February 2, 2017
Read "Recent Developments" CD/LP/Track Review Recent Developments
by John Sharpe
Published: October 21, 2017
Read "Triangulum" CD/LP/Track Review Triangulum
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 20, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!