Carla Bley: Trios

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COMPOSERS: Carla Bley
LABELS: ECM
ALBUM TITLE: Carla Bley: Trios
WORKS: Trios
PERFORMER: Carla Bley (piano), Andy Sheppard (saxophones), Steve Swallow (bass)
CATALOGUE NO: 3724551

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Fifty years ago Carla Bley took a job as a cigarette girl at New York’s Birdland jazz club to get closer to the bebop she loved. She’s gone on to become one of the music’s best-known arranger/composers with a sound as distinctive as her mop of hair.

This record, her first for ECM, is a retrospective take on pieces written for different formats re-imagined for her trio of 20 years standing. With producer Manfred Eicher at the studio controls, it’s a match made in chamber jazz heaven. Eicher chose the tunes and his influence is there from the opener ‘Utviklingssang’. Swallow unfolds the folk-tinged ballad out of the studio silence and Sheppard shapes it into a modal meditation that’s anchored by Bley’s chording.

The deft Latin closer, with its false finishes, is a sign that Bley retains her wry sense of theatre. The trio’s show at Wigmore Hall on 24 November promises to be a real treat.

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Garry Booth