Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

264

Paul Bley: Circles

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Paul Bley's 1970 Synthesizer Show and 1972's Paul Bley and Scorpio are reissued jointly as Circles. Except for "Mr. Joy" from Synthesizer Show, all of the songs from these unconventional albums are presented here, featuring Bley's electronic experiments of the day. While the first half of the compilation sounds slightly dated at times, even humorous to modern ears, the second half is a better gauge of the unique advancements made by Bley in the '70s. No doubt, Bley was ahead of the electronic music curve when these albums were originally released in the heydays of fusion. In fact, many of the sounds heard on this compilation seemed to have guided not only jazz but the sounds of future film scores and video games of the late '70s and early '80s.

"The Archangel," the opening track on this compilation, is clearly a precursor to the high-pitched synthesized sounds heard on the Scarface soundtrack. "Nothing Ever Was, Anyway" has an eerie combination of Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda and the droid language of Star Wars ' R2D2. Still acclimating himself with the quirks of the early ARP synthesizers, Bley's solo spaces on the first-half of Circles are often experimental and rigid. On "Parks," for example, he has space and freedom to match new sounds with new patterns. Instead, he stumbles upon a basic blues riff that does little to excite the senses or define the synthesizer. This new instrument seemed not yet ready for improvisations.

By the second half of the compilation, Paul Bley and Scorpio, the synthesizer is more of a delightful side dish than the forced main course of Synthesizer Show. Tracks like "El Cordobes," "King Korn," and the truly out-there finale, "Ictus," move with a synthesized swagger that is less rigid electronics and more free flowing jazz.

The difference between the first and second album are also highlighted by the role of rhythm on each album. While Synthesizer Show featured different rhythm sections, the team of Dave Holland and Barry Altschul is present throughout Paul Bley and Scorpio. Their partnership with Bley on this album was more engrossing than any on the first set, providing better definitions of these new sounds and textures. The slow burn of "Syndrome" and "Gesture Without a Plot," for example, seem only possible when all the participants respond to a common goal with equal, deliberate vigor. Bley's wives, Carla Bley (first) and Annette Peacock (second), whose compositions are featured throughout this set, also appear on this compilation as vital elements to this new music.

~ Germein Linares


Track Listing: The Archangel/ Nothing Ever Was, Anyway/ Gary/ Snakes/ Parks/ Circles/ El Cordobes/ Capricorn/ King Korn/ Dreams/ Syndrome/ Gesture Without a Plot/ Ictus.

Personnel: Paul Bley- piano, synthesizer, Fender Rhodes; Dick Youngstein, Glen Moore, Dave Holland- bass; Steve Haas, Bobby Moses, Barry Altschul- drums.

Title: Circles | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Soul Note

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Year in Review
Album Reviews
Film Reviews
Album Reviews
Podcast
Album Reviews
Profiles
Album Reviews
Read more articles
Play Blue

Play Blue

ECM Records
2014

buy
Annette

Annette

Hatology
2010

buy
 

Closer

ESP Disk
2009

buy
Barrage

Barrage

ESP Disk
2009

buy
About Time

About Time

Justin Time Records
2008

buy

Shop

Start your shopping here and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read In Between the Tumbling a Stillness Album Reviews
In Between the Tumbling a Stillness
By Karl Ackermann
February 20, 2019
Read Gary Album Reviews
Gary
By Dan McClenaghan
February 20, 2019
Read Perception Album Reviews
Perception
By Paul Rauch
February 20, 2019
Read I Love the Rhythm in a Riff Album Reviews
I Love the Rhythm in a Riff
By Mackenzie Horne
February 20, 2019
Read Head First Album Reviews
Head First
By Roger Farbey
February 20, 2019
Read New American Songbooks, Volume 2 Album Reviews
New American Songbooks, Volume 2
By Karl Ackermann
February 19, 2019
Read Live At JazzCase Album Reviews
Live At JazzCase
By Troy Dostert
February 19, 2019