Reviews that mention Paul Bley

February 11, 2016

Paul Bley

A Modern Jazz Piano Master
By Ken Waxman

Paul Bley who died at 83 in early January was probably never bothered that he was usually described as Canada’s second best-known jazz pianist; Oscar Peterson was the first. But Bley, who shared a Montreal birth with Peterson, and who similarly was honored with induction into the Order of Canada in 2008 – albeit 30 plus years after Peterson – was for all intents and purposes a much more radical pianist than O.P. Peterson, seven years Bley’s senior, was a flamboyant stylist who adapted Art Tatum’s all-encompassing swing era techniques to the structure of modern jazz during an almost incalculable number of performances from the late 1940s until his death in 2007. However Bley, represented on more than 100 discs during his career, cycled through a variety of keyboard strategies from the outgoing to the cerebral, eventually matching the atonality of off-centre techniques with straightforward, melodically measured motion. He was also one of the first serious improvisers to deal with the sonic possibilities that could be extracted from the then brand-new portable Moog synthesizer. Later, such better-known pianists as Keith Jarrett, The Bad Plus’ Ethan Iverson and Satoko Fujii developed their playing following the examples of Bley’s breakthroughs. MORE

September 11, 2014

Paul Bley

Play Blue
ECM: 2373

By Ken Waxman

Aged 81 and ailing, the likelihood of Canadian expatriate pianist Paul Bley giving (m)any more concerts is limited. But this newly issued 2008 live performance from Oslo easily confirms why the unique style he developed in the early 1960s has influenced many pianists including Keith Jarrett

Except for Sonny Rollins’ “Pent-Up House”, which Bley performs in response to vociferous demands for an encore from the audience – and which he appends some so-called classical trope to the boppish line – all the compositions are his. Given enough time to develop, each is, for all intents and purposes, a suite, which brings in many allusions. Deceptive lyrical as well as maintaining a blues sensibility, “Flame”’s ringing key strokes suggest nightclub ballads like “My Way”, but with a cleaner interface. The dramatic Longer is crowded with chords and arpeggiated runs that would be as didactic as an Art Tatum performance if Bley didn’t slyly insert what sounds like a lick from “Arrivederci Roma” mid-way through. MORE

December 23, 2013

8th Annual Jazz Critics Poll – NPR Music

Ken Waxman
(The New York City Jazz Record, Jazz Word)

NEW RELEASES

1. Convergence Quartet, Slow and Steady (NoBusiness)

2. Andrew Cyrille, Duology (Jazzwerkstatt)

3. Black Host, Life in the Sugar Candle Mines (Northern Spy)

4. Scott Neumann, Blessed (Origin)

5. Michel Edelin, Resurgence (RogueArt)

6. Ab Baars-Meinard Kneer-Bill Elgart, Give No Quarter (Evil Rabbit)

7. Maria Faust, Jazz Catastrophe (Barefoot)

8. Barry Altschul, The 3dom Factor (TUM)

9. Mark Dresser, Nourishments (Clean Feed)

10. Alexey Kruglov-Alexey Lapin-Jaak Sooäär-Oleg Yudanov, Military Space (Leo) MORE

December 8, 2013

Paul Bley Trio

Closer
ESP-Disk ESP 1021

Evan Parker/Barry Guy/Paul Lytton

Live at Maya Recordings Festival

NoBusiness NBCD 55

Butcher/Buck/Mayas/Stangl

Plume

Unsounds 35u

Michel Doneda/Joris Rühl

Linge

Umlaut Records umfrcd 07

Lori Freedman & John Heward

On No On

Mode Avant 16

Matt Mitchell

Fiction

Pi Recordings PI50

Kidd Jordan & Hamid Drake
MORE

April 6, 2013

In Print

Always in Trouble: An Oral History of ESP-Disk, the Most Outrageous Record Label in America
Jason Weiss (Wesleyan University Press)

By Ken Waxman

Visionary, charlatan, crook, naïf – these are just a few of the epitaphs applied to Bernard Stollman who founded the legendary ESP-Disk record label in the early 1960s. Interviewing Stollman and almost three dozen ESP artists, Jason Weiss tries to make sense of its history.

An attorney with aspirations towards art and entrepreneurship, Stollman made ESP a full-fledged imprint after hearing tenor saxophonist Albert Ayler. By chance he had stumbled upon a fertile jazz scene, rife with players who lacked recording opportunities. Soon ESP provided many of the era’s most important musical innovators with the freedom to record without interference. ESP jazz artists included Ayler, Burton Greene, Milford Graves, Paul Bley and Sun Ra plus rockers such as The Fugs and Pearls Before Swine. MORE

December 15, 2012

Pharoah Sanders

In the Beginning 1963-64
ESP-Disk ESP-4069

Pierre Favre

Drums and Dreams

Intakt CD 197

Connie Crothers - David Arner

Spontaneous Suite for Two Pianos

Rogueart R0G-037

Various Artists

Echtzeitmusik Berlin

Mikroton CD 14/15/16

Something In The Air: Multiple Disc Sets for the Adventurous

By Ken Waxman

Defying doomsayers who predicted the death of the LP, the CD’s disappearance appears oversold. True music collectors prefer the physical presence and superior fidelity of a well-designd CD package and important material continues to released. Partisans of advanced music, for instance, can choose any one of these sets. The only saxophonist to be part of saxophonist John Coltrane’s working group, tenorist Pharoah Sanders is celebrated for his own highly rhythmic Energy Music. In the Beginning 1963-64 ESP-Disk ESP-4069, a four CD-package highlight his steady growth. Besides Sanders’ first album as leader, very much in the freebop tradition, as part of quintet of now obscure players, the other previously released sounds capture Sanders’ recordings in the Sun Ra Arkestra. More valuable is a CD of unissued tracks where Sanders asserts himself in quartets led by cornetist Don Cherry or Canadian pianist Paul Bley. The set is completed by short interviews with all of the leaders. Oddly enough, although they precede his solo debut, Sanders’ playing is most impressive with Bley and Cherry. With more of a regularized beat via bassist David Izenson and drummer J.C. Moses, Cherry’s tracks advance melody juxtaposition and parallel improvisations with Sanders’ harsh obbligato contrasted with the cornetist’s feisty flourishes; plus the darting lines and quick jabs of pianist Joe Scianni provides an unheralded pleasure. Bley’s economical comping and discursive patterning lead the saxophonist into solos filled with harsh tongue-twisting lines and jagged interval leaps. With Izenson’s screeching assent and drummer Paul Motion’s press rolls the quartet plays super fast without losing the melodic thread. Sun Ra is a different matter. Recorded in concert, the sets include helpings of space chants such as “Rocket #9” and “Next Stop Mars”; a feature for Black Harold’s talking log drums; showcases for blaring trombones, growling trumpets; plus the leader’s propulsive half-down-home and half-outer-space keyboard. Sharing honking and double-tonguing interludes with Arkestra saxists Pat Patrick and Marshall Allen, Sanders exhibits his characteristic stridency. Enjoyable for Sun Ra’s vision which is spectacular and jocular, these tracks suggest why the taciturn Sanders soon went on his own. MORE

March 14, 2011

ECM 40th Anniversary Catalogue

Edited by Kenny Inaoka
Tokyo Kirarasha

Tell No Lies Claim No Easy Victories

Edited by Phillipp Schmickl

Impro 2000

As globalization intensifies, American-birthed popular music forms – most especially Jazz and Improvised Music – have evolved far beyond their initial audiences, confirming one of the hoariest of clichés, that music is a universal language. Creative music of many stripes has for many years been often treated more seriously in Europe and Asia than in North America. Consequently to be truly informed about the breadth of musical sounds it helps to understand other languages besides English. That’s the challenge related to the valuable books here. Neither is published primarily in English, but both can serve as resources for followers of Jazz and Improvised Music, no matter their native tongues. MORE

July 9, 2008

Radio I-Ching

The Fire Keeps Burning
Resonant Music 004

Paul Bley

12+6 In A Row

hatOLOGY 649

Lisle Ellis

Sucker Punch Requiem

Henceforth Records 104

Wayne Horvitz Gravitas Quartet

One Dance Alone

Songlines SGL SA1571-2

Mark O'Leary/Eyvind Kang/Dylan van der Schyff

Zemlya

Leo Records CD LR 507

Expatriate – and Homebody – Sounds

Extended Play

By Ken Waxman

Geographic proximity is responsible for the migration of gifted Canadian artists to the United States. Plus Canadian improvisers down south quickly find eager collaborators. MORE

July 9, 2008

Paul Bley

12+6 In A Row
hatOLOGY 649

Lisle Ellis

Sucker Punch Requiem

Henceforth Records 104

Radio I-Ching

The Fire Keeps Burning

Resonant Music 004

Wayne Horvitz Gravitas Quartet

One Dance Alone

Songlines SGL SA1571-2

Mark O'Leary/Eyvind Kang/Dylan van der Schyff

Zemlya

Leo Records CD LR 507

Expatriate – and Homebody – Sounds

Extended Play

By Ken Waxman

Geographic proximity is responsible for the migration of gifted Canadian artists to the United States. Plus Canadian improvisers down south quickly find eager collaborators. MORE

July 9, 2008

Lisle Ellis

Sucker Punch Requiem
Henceforth Records 104

Paul Bley

12+6 In A Row

hatOLOGY 649

Radio I-Ching

The Fire Keeps Burning

Resonant Music 004

Wayne Horvitz Gravitas Quartet

One Dance Alone

Songlines SGL SA1571-2

Mark O'Leary/Eyvind Kang/Dylan van der Schyff

Zemlya

Leo Records CD LR 507

Expatriate – and Homebody – Sounds

Extended Play

By Ken Waxman

Geographic proximity is responsible for the migration of gifted Canadian artists to the United States. Plus Canadian improvisers down south quickly find eager collaborators. MORE

July 9, 2008

Wayne Horvitz Gravitas Quartet

One Dance Alone
Songlines SGL SA1571-2

Paul Bley

12+6 In A Row

hatOLOGY 649

Lisle Ellis

Sucker Punch Requiem

Henceforth Records 104

Radio I-Ching

The Fire Keeps Burning

Resonant Music 004

Mark O'Leary/Eyvind Kang/Dylan van der Schyff

Zemlya

Leo Records CD LR 507

Expatriate – and Homebody – Sounds

Extended Play

By Ken Waxman

Geographic proximity is responsible for the migration of gifted Canadian artists to the United States. Plus Canadian improvisers down south quickly find eager collaborators. MORE

July 9, 2008

Mark O'Leary/Eyvind Kang/Dylan van der Schyff

Zemlya
Leo Records CD LR 507

Paul Bley

12+6 In A Row

hatOLOGY 649

Lisle Ellis

Sucker Punch Requiem

Henceforth Records 104

Radio I-Ching

The Fire Keeps Burning

Resonant Music 004

Wayne Horvitz Gravitas Quartet

One Dance Alone

Songlines SGL SA1571-2

Expatriate – and Homebody – Sounds

Extended Play

By Ken Waxman

Geographic proximity is responsible for the migration of gifted Canadian artists to the United States. Plus Canadian improvisers down south quickly find eager collaborators. MORE

March 15, 2008

Giant Steps

Portrait of creative alto saxophonist François Carrier in mid-career
By Ken Waxman
CODA Issue 338

Riven like much of the rest of Quebec by long-standing divisions among its population, Montreal’s jazz scene includes a variety of cliques and factions that rarely mix. Standing slight apart from this set of circumstances is saxophonist François Carrier, 46, whose focus is decidedly inward, spiritual and universalistic.

Although un vrai québécois, the Chicoutimi-born Quebec City-raised, Montreal resident decidedly goes his own way, only playing his own music. Leading his own bands since the early 1990s, Carrier’s singular vision has led him to recorded and live collaborations with such non-Québécois as Swedish pianist Bobo Stenson, American violist Mat Maneri and French bassist Jean-Jacques Avenel – to name only three of many. MORE

March 15, 2008

Giant Steps

Portrait of creative alto saxophonist François Carrier in mid-career
By Ken Waxman
CODA Issue 338

Riven like much of the rest of Quebec by long-standing divisions among its population, Montreal’s jazz scene includes a variety of cliques and factions that rarely mix. Standing slight apart from this set of circumstances is saxophonist François Carrier, 46, whose focus is decidedly inward, spiritual and universalistic.

Although un vrai québécois, the Chicoutimi-born Quebec City-raised, Montreal resident decidedly goes his own way, only playing his own music. Leading his own bands since the early 1990s, Carrier’s singular vision has led him to recorded and live collaborations with such non-Québeçois as Swedish pianist Bobo Stenson, American violist Mat Maneri and French bassist Jaean-Jacques Avenel – to name only three of many. MORE

October 3, 2007

Paul Bley/Kresten Osgood

Florida
ILK 131 CD

More separates legendary Canadian expatriate pianist Paul Bley, 75, and Danish percussionist Kresten Osgood, 30, than the almost 45-year age-spread. Although the CD, recorded on one day this year in West Palm Beach, Fla. – hence the title – appears to be a duo session, only the three longest tunes feature both men. The rest showcase either Bley’s or Osgood’s solo strategies. Truth in packaging aside, the results are rather engaging.

Osgood has previously recorded with such older improvisers as saxophonists Sam Rivers and John Tchicai and was part of Manhattan-based Canadian saxophonist Michael Blake’s trio. With Bley he’s suitably diffident, sticking to brush-wiped rumbles, rim shots and pops plus cymbal resonation. This is especially apparent on “Arches”, where Bley moves from behind-the-beat phrasing in a theme that resembles Edith Piaf’s “Les Trio Cloches” to slyly accelerate the line as a swinging ballad. With a martial beat and ruffs as the introduction to “All The Things You Are”, the drummer’s emphasis leads the pianist to recast the overly familiar standard with passing chords and tremolo dynamics. MORE

November 14, 2005

François Carrier

Travelling Lights
Justin Time

Stitch Wynston’s Modern Surfaces
Transparent Horizons
TCB

By Ken Waxman
November 14, 2005

So unfamiliar are most Americans with Canada that they think of the giant land mass north of them as a puny area with one culture and a single conception.

True, most Canadians live close to the United States border, including those in the northern country’s three largest population centres that surpass most American cities in sophistication and multiculturalism. This accident of geography makes it fairly straightforward for Canadians –comedians including Mike Meyers and Martin Short, actors including Keifer Sutherland to Kim Cattrall and entertainers including Celine Dion Young and Avril Lavigne – to list the most recent examples – to covertly become part of the American entertainment fabric. Even committed jazz fans sometimes forget that stylist as varied as trumpeter Maynard Ferguson and pianist Paul Bley, to cite two of many instances, are from Canada. MORE

April 26, 2004

FREE FALL

Furnace
Wobbly Rail 013

JIMMY GIUFFRE/PAUL BLEY/STEVE SWALLOW
Fly Away Little Bird
Sunnyside/Owl SSC 3504

Named for the LP that presented the fullest realization of clarinetist Jimmy Giuffre’s chamber-avant garde in 1962, the band Free Fall shows how the structured freedom of the trio can be adapted to the 21st Century.

Yet FURNACE succeeds on its own terms because the musicians involved -- American reedist Ken Vandermark and Norwegians, pianist Håvard Wiik and bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten -- haven’t gone the neo-con route of recreation. Instead nine new compositions have been recorded, with the performance of the three as influenced by the subsequent 40 years plus of improv experimentation as the original Giuffre trio’s sound. MORE

April 12, 2002

YURI HONING

Seven
Jazz in Motion JIM 75086

VIJAY IYER
Panoptic Modes
Red Giant RG011

Practically a jazz cliché, the sax and rhythm quartet has been a staple of the music since the late 1940s and early 1950s, when it became the favored compact configuration for modernists to tour from town to town.

Since that time every major improviser, definitely including such iconoclastic figures as John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk and, surprisingly, even Anthony Braxton, David Murray and Evan Parker has played and recorded in that formation from time to time. So the challenge facing someone is how best to adjust the quartet setting to his or her own ends. MORE

April 24, 2001

PAUL BLEY/EVAN PARKER/BARRE PHILLIPS

Sankt Gerold
ECM 1609 012 157 899-2

Recorded at the spectacularly-situated Propstei Sankt Gerold, monastery in the Austrian alps, this follow up to the trio's lavishly praised TIME WILL TELL CD, offers a disparate vision of how the participants view sound.

Imbued with a chamber jazz essence, the first CD was also, extraordinarily, the first time British saxophonist Evan Parker and Canadian pianist Paul Bley had recorded together, despite having been involved with improvised music for, at that point, about 35 years each. Veteran American bassist Barre Phillips was the common link, and the success of the session not only set new standards of literate blending, but two years later, also allowed the three to embark on their first-ever -- and so far only -- trio tour including this date. SANKT GEROLD pinpoints the group's singularity as well as its cohesiveness. Unlike TIME's seven trio and four duo selections, this CD is divided between five trio selections and a basket full of solo spots for each member.

MORE