23 Sep 2012

Carla Bley (b. 1936)

From Composer of the Week, 9:15 am on 23 September 2012
Carla Bley at Keystone Korner, San Francisco 1979

Carla Bley at Keystone Korner, San Francisco 1979 Photo: CC BY-SA 3.0

In a six-part series, Norman Meehan takes us from Carla Bley’s beginnings as ‘Lovella May Borg’ in a religious Californian family, through her first exposure to jazz to her first job as a cigarette girl at Birdland in New York. Later when a psychiatrist told her to give up trying to be a composer and become a seamstress, it was George Russell who saved her by telling her he wanted to record one of her pieces.

After that, her life changed.

Bley began by writing tunes for small jazz groups but gradually moved into writing for larger ensembles. She started writing specifically for particular players and that had become a strength of her work by the mid-60s.

After her experimental opera Escalator over the Hill, Bley turned to rock/ jazz fusion in the late 70s, but had returned primarily to jazz ten years later and she has continued in that fashion ever since.

Music Details for Part 1 :

C BLEY: Sidewinders in Paradise, from 4X4 – Lew Soloff (tpt), Wolfgang Puschnig (a sax), Andy Sheppard on (t sax), Gary Valente (tb) Carla Bley (pno), Larry Goldings (org), Steve Swallow (bass), Victor Lewis (drms) (WATT/30)
Carla Bley interview with Ben Sidran, from Talking Jazz (Unlimited Media Limited)
HAMPTON/GOODMAN: Flying Home, from Lionel Hampton and the Just Jazz All Stars – Just Jazz All Stars (GNP Crescendo GNPD 15)
LOESSER: If I were a bell - Miles Davis Quintet (OJC20 190)
C BLEY: 0 Plus One, from Solemn Meditations - Paul Bley Quartet (FSR 515)
COLEMAN: Free, from Complete live at the Hillcrest Club - Ornette Coleman Quintet (Gambit Records 692)
C BLEY: Bent Eagle, from Stratusphunk - George Russell Band (OJCCD 232)
C BLEY: Jésus Maria, from  - Jimmy Giuffre (ECM 1438)
C BLEY: Ictus, from Paul plays Carla – Paul Bley (pno), Marc Johnson (bass), Jeff Williams (drms) (Steeplechase SCCD31303)
C BLEY: Ida Lupino, from Open to Love - Paul Bley (pno) (ECM 1023)
C BLEY: And now the Queen, from Closer - Paul Bley Trio (ESP 1021)
C BLEY: Seven, from Paul plays Carla – Paul Bley (pno), Marc Johnson (bass), Jeff Williams (drms) (Steeplechase SCCD31303)

Carla Bley 2012

Carla Bley 2012 Photo: Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons