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

Fly: Year of the Snake (ECM/Ode)

Fly: Year of the Snake (ECM/Ode)

This sinuous, mysterious, rhythmic and back-to-the-bone album comes from a young trio which has impeccable pedigree. Saxophonist Mark Turner has played with numerous ECM artists (Dave Holland,... > Read more

Esperanza Spalding: Chamber Music Society (Head Up)

Esperanza Spalding: Chamber Music Society (Head Up)

Because we could safely assume few aggrieved Justin Bieber followers will ever come to Elsewhere, it is safe to write about this hitherto little-known jazz singer-composer-bassist who won the... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Angela's Low-fat Moist Cake which serves 12!

Angela's Low-fat Moist Cake which serves 12!

This is Angela's recipe under the very enticing (and somewhat healthy) title, and one which she says is a New Zealand adaption -- or is that "adaptation"? I've got into this discussion... > Read more

Vancouver, Canada: A user's guide

Vancouver, Canada: A user's guide

To be honest, I can’t tell you whether you can get a decent cup of coffee in Vancouver, coffee doesn’t interest me much. What I can tell you however is that you won’t be... > Read more