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Thread: AAJ Review: Carla Bley, Trios

  1. #1

    AAJ Review: Carla Bley, Trios

    My review of Carla Bley, Trio, today at All About Jazz.

    In a career more defined by memorable compositions than instrumental acumen, it's easy to forget that Carla Bley may not be the most virtuosic pianist on the planet, but she's a far more than capable one, as evidenced on duo recordings like Are We There Yet? (Watt, 1999), with life partner/bassist Steve Swallow, and Songs With Legs (WATT, 1995), a trio date with longtime collaborator, saxophonist Andy Sheppard—also heard in Bley's larger ensemble of Appearing Nightly (Watt/ECM, 2008) and quartet session, The Lost Chords (Watt/ECM, 2004). On Swallow's recent Into the Woodwork (XtraWATT/ECM, 2013), Bley proved a clever, quirky and comedic organist; with Trios—an album that, perhaps for the first time ever, features absolutely no new compositions—Bley reunites the Songs With Legs trio, refocusing attention on her thoughtful, precise piano work.

    That's not to suggest there isn't still a clever compositional mind at work in these fresh, intimate arrangements of music ranging from Bley's elegiac "Utviklingssang," her most-recorded ballad that first appeared on Social Studies (Watt, 1981), to lesser-known but still previously recorded suites including "The Girl Who Cried Champagne," from the aptly titled Sextet (Watt, 1987) and "Wildlife," heard for the first time on the larger ensemble session Night-Glo (Watt, 1986). Only the dark-hued "Vashkar"—one of Bley's most well-known tunes, having appeared on Tony Williams' fusion classic Lifetime (Polydor, 1969) and, most recently, on John McLaughlin and Carlos Santana's Invitation to Illumination: Live at Montreux 2011 (Eagle Vision, 2013)—is played on record by Bley for the first time.

    Continue reading here.

    PS: for those wondering why it's on ECM and not a Watt/ECM coproduction like usual, Carla wanted, for the first time, to be produced, in particular by Manfred Eicher.i think you can hear the results in the music.
    Last edited by jkelman; 09-14-2013 at 05:13 AM.

  2. #2
    Carla's a national treasure. This disc is another wonder, more intimate than some of her bigger band work, but still warmly felt. Amd ain't a nicer musician than Steve Swallow.
    I'm not lazy. I just work so fast I'm always done.

  3. #3
    Member wideopenears's Avatar
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    Nov 2012
    SF Bay Area
    Just picked this up, and am loving it...very intimate, and I agree that the Eicher production gives it a different sound, and I mean that in a positive way. I imagine Steve and Carla playing duets around the house, and maybe Andy drops by. This one gets repeated spins, for sure.


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