Paul Bley Trios: Touching & Blood Revisited

Mark Corroto By

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Paul Bley Trios: Touching & Blood Revisited
Pianist Paul Bley (1932—2016) wasn't just a witness to jazz history, he was a key contributor. Bley performed with Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Charles Mingus, and Sonny Rollins, yet his true sound was set in motion when he performed with Ornette Coleman in California, evidenced by Live At The Hillcrest Club 1958 (America Records, 1971). While Coleman eschewed a piano in his ensembles until he made the Sound Museum (Harmolodic / Verve, 1996) sessions in the 1990s, Bley kept Ornette's vision alive in solo performance and in his own piano trio format. After Coleman, he would record with the likes of Jimmy Giuffre, Marshall Allen, Milford Graves, and perform at the October Revolution in 1964. His influence can be heard in the early music of Keith Jarrett, and in today's stars such as Matthew Shipp, Craig Taborn, and Satoko Fujii.

These recordings of Bley's trio from 1965 and 1966 were originally released as Touching (Debut Records, 1965) (Mingus' label) and Blood (Fontana, 1966). The first LP recorded in Copenhagen followed by Haarlem in The Netherlands. The constant in the trio was drummer Barry Altschul with the bass role swapped between Kent Carter and Mark Levinson. The overriding themes here are Bley's navigation through free jazz with bebop articulation. Or is it bebop with a free jazz articulation? Rather than rejecting his past (and also that of jazz) à la Cecil Taylor, Bley combines the two. His trio, especially with Altschul's expressive drumming, opens the music to painterly application of sound and silence of "Touching," dynamic interplay "Start," and an off-kilter bluesy swing "Mazatlan." Revisiting these documents from nearly fifty years ago informs today's listeners of the foundations of our 21st century jazz.

Track Listing

Cartoon; Touching; Start; Mazatlan; Closer; Both; Pablo; Blood.


Paul Bley: piano; Barry Altschul: drums; Kent Carter: bass; Mark Levinson: bass, acoustic.

Album information

Title: Touching & Blood Revisited | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Ezz-thetics

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