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Album Review

This collection of 19 shortish piano and drum duets has caused the same reaction in several different fans of Paul Bley, so probably shouldn't be dismissed as quickly as the performers seemed to each track go by. Initial listings inspire indifference, in some case sneers, as it seems the two veteran players and longtime musical parners are improvising as if facing a row of judges who have given them time limits. This image addresses the brevity of the tracks, but not the lack of any palpable urgency, a quality that it is assumed would be rampant in anyone addressing such a court.

Superficially, the set of musical miniatures brings to mind a classic Erroll Garner side, in which each in a series of two, three and four minute tracks opens up an entire musical cosmos as well as inviting in the apparition of romance and the smell of perfume. None of that happens at all here, the tracks basically having the flatness and relative lack of detail of the album's cover illustration. These performances have a lingering quality, however, certain moments eventually acquirng magic like illuminations, even though it is all mere residue under the fingers of players who seemingly can create beauty in their sleep. "West 107th Street" is music for an imaginary movie, "Love Hurts" almost manages to deny feeling, and "Batterie" in its millionth recording still puts new thoughts in the pianist's mind.


Born: 10 November 1932 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Pianist Paul Bley, whose earliest recordings sound like Al Haig or Bud Powell, took the styles and techniques associated with Oscar Peterson, Wynton Kelly and Bill Evans to new levels of creative experimentation, becoming an indispensable force in modern music by combining the best elements in bop and early modern jazz with extended free improvisation and procedural dynamics often found in 20th century chamber music. This approach places him in league with artists as diverse as Red Garland, Elmo...
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Notes, Paul Bley
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