Fly Away Little Bird
Paul Bley & Jimmy Giuffre & Steve Swallow
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Why aren't there more recordings like Fly Away Little Bird? Perhaps it's because there aren't more musicians of this stature. The studio reunion of the legendarily experimental Jimmy Giuffre 3 in 1992 was reissued in 2003 on the French Sunnyside label and is a radical departure from anything the trio had done in the past. These studio apparitions of the band are their most seamlessly accessible while being wildly exploratory. In addition to the consummate improvisations and compositions by Giuffre (title track, a redone "Tumbleweed"), the tender meditations by Steve Swallow ("Fits" and "Starts"), and the bottom-register contrapuntal improves by Paul Bley ("Qualude"), this is a trio recording that uses standards such as "Lover Man," a radically and gorgeously reworked "I Can't Get Started," "Sweet and Lovely," and "All the Things You Are" to state hidden textural possibilities inside chromatic harmony. There is never the notion of restraint in the slow, easy, and proactive way these compositions are approached. Rather, they are traced along spectral melodic frameworks and opened up from the space provided by not having a drummer, allowing for tonal exploration and group interaction to meet in the center of a composition and grow it out to all three sides of a triangle. The moving emotions that swirl around inside these (mostly) light melodies are the most captivating and aesthetically beautiful this group has ever committed to tape. Here is a stellar display of the intricacies of musical communication as it happens and how achingly beautiful a record can be when three men listen carefully to one another's secret hearts.