Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Alon Marcus

Carla Bley

75 posts in this topic

I walked out of a gig by that band. Not something I'm overly proud of and I don't think I'd do so now but back then I wanted "real" Carla Bley music and didn't appreciate that's what I was getting...ho hum

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I recently pissed off Darcy James Argue because I mentioned that I do not like Carla Bley's band writing. It strikes me as strangely conventional, the harmonic voicings, the execution; fake daring. As opposed to, say, Duke, George Russel and Gil Evans and Julius Hemphill, whose big group work always seems to be on the edge of a certain kind of musical disintegration. Her work has its moments of disjointed glee, but they are usually fully under control, with very little true harmonic tension or emotional release. It's like a giant tease resolved by consonance and convention. Is there not anyone else who feels this way? Her whole thing is too controlled, lacking in non-textbook essence. There is, to quote a great lady, no there there. There are sections I like, but they come across as second-rate Brechtian/Weil gestures with settled triads and land-locked chords.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, JSngry said:

Here's a contributor comment posted on the Discogs page for the album. Interesting...

" I love this album. Though I have heard it described as a "rare, critical miscue" and not "wild" enough for some tastes, its polish and atmosphere are quite wonderful to me and neither make the music any less complex. Gavin Bryars has written about Carla Bley as his favorite composer and he explains it much more eloquently than I. With credit to Mr. Bryars, here are his words, "Many people were dismayed - and Manfred Eicher was one of them - when this band evolved into the sextet (electric guitar, bass guitar, organ, piano, drums and percussion) via a couple of transitional albums: Heavy Heart 1983 and Night-glo of 1985, which had the magical yet prosaically-named track Rut. Ironically, some record stores, especially those with eccentric classification systems such as the FNAC chain in France, started to place her work at this time in the "fusion" section because of the music's mellifluous façade and its superficial resemblance to that genre. But this is a similar mistake to that which was made in the early 1960's when some writers almost dismissed the Bill Evans trio as "cocktail music". Beneath the deceptively smooth surface, in both cases, is a music of great toughness and rhythmic subtlety (even at very slow tempi)."

So there you have it. Randos on Amazon, "serious" jazz folks, and merchandisers trying to package music for easy sale...just digest Mr. Bryars words a bit and you will begin to appreciate this album more. "

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it's a great record in every way.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm certainly appreciating it more listening now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's easy listening, but in no way easy music.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
26 minutes ago, AllenLowe said:

I recently pissed off Darcy James Argue because I mentioned that I do not like Carla Bley's band writing. It strikes me as strangely conventional, the harmonic voicings, the execution; fake daring. As opposed to, say, Duke, George Russel and Gil Evans and Julius Hemphill, whose big group work always seems to be on the edge of a certain kind of musical disintegration. Her work has its moments of disjointed glee, but they are usually fully under control, with very little true harmonic tension or emotional release. It's like a giant tease resolved by consonance and convention. Is there not anyone else who feels this way? Her whole thing is too controlled, lacking in non-textbook essence. There is, to quote a great lady, no there there. There are sections I like, but they come across as second-rate Brechtian/Weil gestures with settled triads and land-locked chords.

For me, the live concert stuff is where it's at, especially in the '70s/'80s. A lot of unruliness there, but with a measured/careful hand directing it, and a hell of a lot of fun. I think irony's a bit played out sometimes, but when you hear certain people do it right, it's compelling.

Not surprised Bryars likes Bley. He's brilliant, creative, and quite funny too.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm getting into her last three trio records on ECM. They're self-described "chamber music" and very much the work of a composer  New material, as well as revisiting of old (including two from Night-Glo!). She's very much got her own thing, more than ever, and a group with which to do it. Above all else, she is a composer.

If, God forbid, these are the last records she makes, it will have been a triumphant last statement.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, JSngry said:

I'm getting into her last three trio records on ECM. They're self-described "chamber music" and very much the work of a composer  New material, as well as revisiting of old (including two from Night-Glo!). She's very much got her own thing, more than ever, and a group with which to do it. Above all else, she is a composer.

If, God forbid, these are the last records she makes, it will have been a triumphant last statement.

Absolutely agree about those trio albums. I saw them perform the first one at Ronnies

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have to wonder if those being on ECM directly, with no WATT imprint has any implications...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, mjazzg said:

I'm certainly appreciating it more listening now.

Supposedly it is very popular in jazz schools at the moment. I'm not sure where I heard that. Possibly here. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, JSngry said:

I'm getting into her last three trio records on ECM. They're self-described "chamber music" and very much the work of a composer  New material, as well as revisiting of old (including two from Night-Glo!). She's very much got her own thing, more than ever, and a group with which to do it. Above all else, she is a composer.

If, God forbid, these are the last records she makes, it will have been a triumphant last statement.

:tup

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
27 minutes ago, Rabshakeh said:

Supposedly it is very popular in jazz schools at the moment. 

They wouldn't know what to do with it if they got it.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have tried; with some interesting exceptions it just all sounds too calculated. It verges on the adventurous, but then loses its nerve.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wish there was more hearable from Jazz Realities and the Guild-era Jazz Composers' Orchestra.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

26 minutes ago, clifford_thornton said:

I wish there was more hearable from Jazz Realities and the Guild-era Jazz Composers' Orchestra.

I'm assuming you have heard this, but worth posting regardless:

Michael Mantler: trumpet
Peter Brötzmann: tenor sax
Carla Bley: piano
Peter Kowald: double bass
Aldo Romano: drums.

 

and to that end, this was just finally added to YouTube the other day. Put it on just now for the first time after wanting to hear it for many years.

 

Edited by colinmce

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

yep, I have that material. But one can always want more!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would like to know if Carla abandoned roller skating for good when she left home or if she kept it up for a while, or longer, or maybe took it back up again.

Seriously. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/2/2005 at 9:01 AM, Michael Fitzgerald said:

Escalator Over The Hill is a masterpiece of twentieth century music, something that I keep going back to again and again. I still don't understand everything in it, but I will continue trying.

Listened to the first half of Escalator yesterday. Brilliant. Going through it again, I was struck by how well-recorded it is, with just a few jarring edits. Gato Barbieri fairly explodes. The "libretto," as far as I understand it, was never intended to make narrative sense. There are some phrases that add on to each other to become coherent sentences, but otherwise Paul Haines' approach seems to be ... dada-esque. I like what Marcello Carlin wrote about it:

"No protest, no social commentary. No expression of love, of grief, of hope, of despair. It is literally whatever you want to make of it. It is devoid of every quality which you might assume would qualify it to be the greatest of all records. And yet it is that tabula rasa in its heart, the blank space which may well exist at the very heart of all music, revealing the hard truth that we have to fill in the blanks, we have to interpret what is being played and sung, and our interpretation is the only one which can possibly be valid, as we cannot discern any perspective other than our own."

I wonder if Ray Davies or Pete Townsend heard this record at the time. They both created works in a similar vein which were far less complex but received far more exposure. While the Penguin Guide states that Escalator Over The Hill is something "better to have heard than to listen to," I agree (with Mr. Fitzgerald, 17 years ago) that it's a masterpiece. It has an inexhaustible quality about it. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 hours ago, Late said:

I wonder if Ray Davies or Pete Townsend heard this record at the time. They both created works in a similar vein which were far less complex but received far more exposure. 

This had occurred to me too. It breathes very much the same air. Also the Aphrodite’s Child record 666.

i am less in love with it. It’s a record that I enjoy despite it being, in my view, probably a bit too of it’s time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's a thought - the second side of Heavy Heart is some of the most gut-wrenching music Carla's ever put forth. There was a lot of diversionary press about that one being an album about "romantic love", but I'm calling bullshit on that one. I have no idea how here and Mike Mantler's marriage evolved over the years, but here's the album from when it was ending once and for all. The first side is nice and "bright" (and is complemented by the pretty droll commentary on The Carla Bley Audio), but that second side, with "Ending It", "Starting Again", and finally "Heavy Heart"...listen to that by itself, put it in the context of the dissolution of a 20 or so marriage/business partnership, and it becomes some pretty damn intense music.

What threw this into focus for me was reading in Karen Mantler's online autobiography that there was a time when she was talking to her father and he was so depressed that he was either going to quit music altogether or commit suicide. Hardly a happy place. And Carla, I get the feeling,, wanted happiness in her life so the darkness had no chance of winning over the light. And so they parted. Like the lead cut says, "Light or Dark"...it's not a question, it's a choice that has to be made.

I'm nowadays prone to chuckle at how many people equate Carla Bley with being somehow light or un-serious in some fashion. She's a very serious person who, it seems to me, play her cards very close to the vest. But listen to those three songs (especially "Ending It", where Gary Valente speaks the truth about the pain involved in making tough decisions), in context, and tell me that's not some deeply personal music of, yes, deeply personal pain. Although at the end, she brings it back to the surface. But by then...the truth has been let out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice! Yeah, apparently an hour and a half exists but it's not on YouTube.

For what it's worth Tchicai, Thilo, Warren and Favre had a working quartet at that time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.