Paul Bley: Play Blue (ECM/Ode)

 |   |  <1 min read

Paul Bley: Flame
Paul Bley: Play Blue (ECM/Ode)

It seems absurd to say it -- but others have -- that this solo concert in Oslo by pianist Paul Bley is a career highlight.

Absurd, because at the time of this recording in 2008 he was 75.

But this astonishing tour-de-force finds him freely improvising in a way that is filled with daring runs, endlessly melodic extrapolations from the smallest of ideas and a muscularity leavened by an intuitive sense of spacial architecture that is quite thrilling.

Halfway through the 17 minute opening piece Far North he gently takes the mood down from wrestling out rippling runs into the most spare pointillism before letting cascades of notes flow through him and hiking the piece up another notch.

At one moment he can be as sensitive as Bill Evans, at another like the young and adventurous Keith Jarrett and another Cecil Taylor at his most pugilistic . . . but he always sounds like himself, a man for whom the keyboard is wide open with possibilities. 

The final piece is a jaunty and playful take on Sonny Rollins' Pent-Up House . . . but to get to that jigsaw puzzle of notes and crashing chords you have been taken on a journey where Bley never once falls back on a cliche, looks for a soft option or tries to find an easy way out.

This is improvised and restlessly inventive piano playing on the highest plane.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Jazz articles index

JACK DeJOHNETTE INTERVIEWED (2011): Two Jacks and a Miles

JACK DeJOHNETTE INTERVIEWED (2011): Two Jacks and a Miles

When fame called on Jack DeJohnette during his period in Miles Davis' innovative electric band of the late Sixties and early Seventies, he was ready for it. Acclaim outside their own world is... > Read more

Various Artists: Weird Nightmare; Meditations on Mingus (Sony)

Various Artists: Weird Nightmare; Meditations on Mingus (Sony)

Arranger Hal Willner has put together some exciting, fascinating, irritating collaborations in the past on his tributes to Walt Disney music, Thelonious Monk, Kurt Weill and Fellini soundtrack... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Loretta Lynn's You Ain't Woman Enough Casserole

Loretta Lynn's You Ain't Woman Enough Casserole

Some too-many years back we were driving across the States and found ourselves drawn towards Loretta Lynn's former home -- an ante-bellum mansion of the kind she described as like something out of... > Read more

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . .  HAYSEED DIXIE: The wacky world of hillbilly humour

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . HAYSEED DIXIE: The wacky world of hillbilly humour

The remote community of Deer Lick Holler in the Appalachians isn't on the way to anywhere, so there aren't many outside influences. It's where musicologists go to study authentic hillbilly music --... > Read more