Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Always Looking Forward...

Without taking anything away from Oscar Peterson, I’d like to make a case for Paul Bley as Canada’s greatest jazz pianist. Bley comes from the same city as Peterson and Oliver Jones (could it be the water?) – Montreal. He has been central to the development of free jazz and improvised music worldwide. He started his own independent record label (IAI) back before it was a common practice. He’s played with virtually every improvising musician in just about every style of jazz. I first heard Paul Bley when I unwittingly stumbled upon his beautiful Open, To Love – still, to this day, in my humble opinion, one of the three or four best solo piano recordings ever recorded. ECM released a “Touchstone” series last year to celebrate the most important (to them) recordings released in the 70’s and it was one of select few chosen. I whole-heartedly agree.

A buddy of mine read an interview with Bley in which the interviewer asked him which one of his records he was most proud of and Paul replied that he is an improvising musician – the music in the moment is what is important to him. He didn’t listen to his own records…

What we have here is a short concert on which Paul Bley performs solo for the long first piece (a medley) and is accompanied by bassist Glen Moore on the last two pieces (Mr. Joy; Carla). It’s taken from a radio broadcast at the Treffplunkt Jazz Festival in Stuttgart on March 19, 1974.

I hope you enjoy

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