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Mark Stryker

Carla Bley: 1980 Detroit Free Press

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Musicians don't typically diss their own work, but this 1980 Detroit Free Press interview with Carla Bley contains one of the nuttiest quotes you'll ever see: "It's going to be absolutely hideous. Horrible things will happen. Music stands will fall over and everybody will forget their parts.” The story itself is actually rather sad. 

carla.jpg

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Didn’t Gil Evans (in particular) have the same sort of problem? — only his neary(?) annual(?) tours of Europe and (then later?) Japan every really turned out audiences — and that he could never really tour in the US and make it work financially.

How did Gerald Wilson fare thru the 70’s and 80’s? I know he didn’t record at all in the 70’s, but did put out four albums in the 80’s. Did Wilson ever tour a band overseas (like Gil)? Carla surely did better overseas, but did she tour much (overseas) thru the 70’s? I think(?) she did in the 80’s, iirc, at least some.

Is there a good book on Carla, btw? Can’t say I’ve ever seen one, but I’d love to know if there is.

What other nationally-prominent non-Ghost (big, or biggish) bands in the US were there thru the 70’s and 80’s? Thad and Mel, certainly. But that’s about it, right?

(I realize the economics of it all were miserably against such endeavors even being even remotely sustainable, let alone successful.)

Was Carla fielding like an 8-piece or maybe 10-piece group (at most) at this point? Maybe even 6 or 7 — I forget the number of players on which albums thru this time-period for her, I’m afraid (haven’t heard many of them in years).

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Listen to "Naked Hamlet." On YouTube. 1972. Brilliant but (indeed) unsustainable.

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10 hours ago, Rooster_Ties said:

Is there a good book on Carla, btw? Can’t say I’ve ever seen one, but I’d love to know if there is.

i picked this one up a few weeks ago and it's good enough.

https://www.amazon.com/Carla-Bley-American-Composers-Beal/dp/0252078187/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3O2FDLDUKO8XH&keywords=carla+bley+book&qid=1650894561&sprefix=CARLA+BLEY%2Caps%2C4255&sr=8-1

31cyFg4UGCL.jpg

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I wish I could get the promo record that Carla did for Heavy Heart. Samples of the songs and some of the drollest/driest commentary I've ever heard her do. This was her "sell out" album, and she fully played to that in her narration. Just delightful. Probably a 45, couldn't have been more than five minutes.

10 hours ago, Late said:

 Brilliant but (indeed) unsustainable.

Have you by chance been following the Lost Chords at all?

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45 minutes ago, JSngry said:

Have you by chance been following the Lost Chords at all?

I haven't. Where should one start?

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Anywhere, really. There's only two. But as a quartet dedicated to Carla's ongoing writing, it's an example of sustainability. I'm not crazy about Andy Sheppard as the sole horn player, but he's find for playing melodies ala Charlie Rouse. And to that end, maybe think of them as her Monk Quartet phase.

The one where they "find" Paolo Fresu adds trumpet. And there's plenty of Bley/Swallow/Sheppard trio records, even more sustainable (but again, Andy Sheppard....).

But the Lost Chords quartet adds Billy Drummond on drums, and that makes a difference.

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Liners essays/photos on both are exquisite.

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Posted (edited)

2 hours ago, JSngry said:

I wish I could get the promo record that Carla did for Heavy Heart. Samples of the songs and some of the drollest/driest commentary I've ever heard her do. This was her "sell out" album, and she fully played to that in her narration. Just delightful. Probably a 45, couldn't have been more than five minutes.

 

I would like to hear that promo record. Carla did one of the great Sidran on Record radio programs back in the day, and via one of Ben's oldest and closest friends, I got a copy of the entire unedited interview, not just the stuff that made it to air. It's hilarious, partly because Carla is so out there and some of the stuff she says is just charmingly nutty. It's hard to tell what, if anything is a put-on. 

Edited by Mark Stryker

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I don't know how "out there" she can really be, given her ongoing business survival. I do think she's very dry and sees both the realities and the absurdities of most of life, especially the music business. Everything is a put-on, nothing is a put-on, like Monk, deadly serious jokes.

Hey - she survived Sun Ra in the Jazz Composers' Guild, hell, she's survived a big whole helluva lot of things, including competitive roller skating!

Anybody who has yet to do so, spend some time wandering around her website: http://www.wattxtrawatt.com/

 

 

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16 hours ago, Mark Stryker said:

Musicians don't typically diss their own work, but this 1980 Detroit Free Press interview with Carla Bley contains one of the nuttiest quotes you'll ever see: "It's going to be absolutely hideous. Horrible things will happen. Music stands will fall over and everybody will forget their parts.” The story itself is actually rather sad. 

carla.jpg

any way to get the full article in a larger font? I can't read this at all, even trying to zoom in.

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1 hour ago, JSngry said:

Anywhere, really. There's only two. But as a quartet dedicated to Carla's ongoing writing, it's an example of sustainability. I'm not crazy about Andy Sheppard as the sole horn player, but he's find for playing melodies ala Charlie Rouse. And to that end, maybe think of them as her Monk Quartet phase.

The one where they "find" Paolo Fresu adds trumpet. And there's plenty of Bley/Swallow/Sheppard trio records, even more sustainable (but again, Andy Sheppard....).

But the Lost Chords quartet adds Billy Drummond on drums, and that makes a difference.

OC05NzMwLmpwZWc.jpeg

OC5qcGVn.jpeg

MS0yMTcyLmpwZWc.jpeg

My0zMjYyLmpwZWc.jpeg

Liners essays/photos on both are exquisite.

I have those someplace. If I can locate them, I'll play them today.

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The way she balances older works with new ones is pretty damn amazing, really. She's got a deep enough book that she could just play that for the rest of her life. Yet she still keeps adding new things.

It's long past time to look at her as an "inspiration". I know I do.

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Carla Bley is a truly major figure in jazz.  You will be greatly rewarded by going deeply into her work.  The range from duos with Steve Swallow to big band is phenomenal, and of course her many compositions.  Not to mention what she brought to Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra.

She is unique and very gifted.

 

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On 4/25/2022 at 0:06 PM, jlhoots said:

I have those someplace. If I can locate them, I'll play them today.

Found 'em. Very nice.

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