Carla Bley is sixty this year. Which factoid seems so far beyond the range of the probable that it's worth repeating to myself every time I listen to her astonishing compositions and equally astonishing ensembles. Bley's latest set, with the eight-piece band she named after the new recording (which did come first, chicken or...?), is as calmly revolutionary as even the best of her seventies work.
Meanwhile ECM has also chosen to simultaneously re-release two of those seventies gems on CD to coincide with Bley's current live project, the first concert performances of the liberating Escalator Over The Hill suite.
If you're new to the sound and shape of Bley's iconoclastic jazz-to-classical hybrids, don't hesitate, ask your megastore to play some of this on the in-store radio, and watch pigs fly. I suppose it's my job to choose words to describe sounds, but I've put off reviewing these revelatory tunes since July because I just don't know what to say. How about: "I love it to death, and please, Carla, keep 'em coming"? If that's no good to you, then chuck Monk, Stravinsky, the Penguin Cafe Orchestra, Mozart, Ellington, Satie, Gershwin and Schubert into a big pot, get Spike Jones to dish it up and then tell me what it sounds like. Yup, Carla Bley at her most accessible and most rewarding.
TRACK LISTING:Wolfgang Tango, Romantic Notion 4, End Of Vienna, Tigers In Training, Romantic Notion 6, JonBenet.
PERSONNNEL:Carla Bley - piano, Steve Morris - violin, Andrew Byrt - viola, Emma Black - cello, Steve Swallow - bass, Alison Hayhurst - flute, Sara Lee - clarinet, glockenspiel, Chris Wells - percussion.