Carla Bley by Amy C. Beal

By Amy C. Beal

This is the 1st accomplished therapy of the notable tune and effect of Carla Bley, a hugely cutting edge American jazz composer, pianist, organist, band chief, and activist. With fastidious consciousness to Bley's diversified compositions during the last fifty years spanning serious moments in jazz and experimental song historical past, Amy C. Beal tenders a long-overdue illustration of an incredible determine in American music.




Best recognized for her jazz opera "Escalator over the Hill," her position within the loose Jazz flow of the Nineteen Sixties, and her collaborations with artists comparable to Jack Bruce, Don Cherry, Robert Wyatt, and red Floyd drummer Nick Mason, Bley has effectively maneuvered the sector of jazz from hugely obtainable, tradition-based contexts to commercially unviable, avant-garde works. Beal information the awesome type in Bley's paintings in addition to her use of parody, quotations, and contradictions, reading the vocabulary Bley has built all through her occupation and highlighting the compositional and cultural value of her experimentalism.




Beal additionally issues to Bley's expert and managerial paintings as a pioneer within the improvement of artist-owned checklist labels, the cofounder and supervisor of WATT files, and the cofounder of recent song Distribution provider. exhibiting her to be not only an artist yet an activist who has maintained musical independence keep watch over amid the profit-driven, corporation-dominated global of industrial jazz, Beal's straight forward dialogue of Bley's existence and occupation will stimulate deeper examinations of her work.


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Several other pieces published in this collection, in particular Violin and Closer, are also notable for their unconventional approach to notation. These too lack key signatures, meters, and bar lines (see fig. 5). They include thick, horizontal Figure 5. Violin. Carla Bley, Vol. 1: Early Short Pieces (1958– 1964). Copyright 1976, Alrac Music. Used by permission of Carla Bley. indd 21 21 8/29/11 10:43 AM c a r l a b l e y | Sing Me Softly of the Blues 22 lines rather than conventional rhythmic notation to represent long-held notes or chords in the left hand.

Similarly, And Now, the Queen, a composition Steve Swallow considers among Bley’s finest works, reveals many of the previously mentioned characteristics in the form of a repeated four-bar melody that changes meter every bar (see fig. 6). A fermata stops the melodic motion after seven beats, enhancing a free-time feel to the piece. indd 22 8/29/11 10:43 AM Figure 6. And Now, the Queen. Carla Bley, Vol. 1: Early Short Pieces (1958–1964). Copyright 1976, Alrac Music. Used by permission of Carla Bley.

Paul Bley enhanced his repertoire by playing an assortment of these short pieces, including Around Again, King Korn, Syndrome, Vashkar, Batterie, and certainly the most enduring of these early works, Ida Lupino. 4 In Bley’s early work, the former is fiery, quick, and nervous, with irregular and asymmetrical rhythmic phrases and chromatic or even atonal pitch material. The latter tends to be smooth and lyrical, dominated by a simple repetitive melody, tonal or modal harmonies, slower tempos, and a calm demeanor.

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