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Carla Bley is interesting and witty in relating the experiences of the band on their first European tour in the liner notes to this new release. The pictures are great too, and if one wants to get deeper into the whole experience, just log on to the Watt web site and have dollops of fun! It is easy to see what led to the name of The Lost Chords.
Bley is an uncompromising composer. She writes with wit and a quirky sense of direction. Could there be problems with that? An unusual trajectory is well worth cocking an ear, or two, to. She offers an odd sense of air and time, meters that do not fall into a predictable groove. With the kind of assimilators, and interpreters, of her music that undertook the journey with her, the results could only be endearing.
As just one example, there is Andy Sheppard on the soprano sax, probing lines that tumble into billowing circular grooves that at first spell "Wink Leak" then extend into "Traps" and "Leonard Feather" and get a slam dunk of a workout. His breathing evolutes, changing the temperament and the pulse, until he blows out for Steve Swallow and Billy Drummond, who open up the space, their conversation unhurried yet punched with eloquence.
Ideas change shape and coalesce into some funky stuff that goes by the name of "Hip Hop," with Bley playing a cativating piano melody that gets a bounce on the bass from Swallow. This is an absolute delight, the final irresistible pull coming from Sheppard and his tenor, riding high on bop and unleashing a veritable pantheon of stimulating ideas. A hip tune, most decidedly!
There is much more that is elating in this noteworthy document, all of which reinforces the significance of Bley as a composer.