Wednesday, 18 September 2013


I can’t remember the last time I got a new album that I’ve listened to so much.
Got the new Carla Bley, Andy Sheppard, Steve Swallow album “Trios” the other week and I just can’t keep from playing it.
Not only one of the best pianists on the go, Carla is possibly one of the best composers and arrangers that contemporary jazz has.
This is a “re visit” to some of her own favourite and best loved works – most, originally done for big band (or at least larger combo’s), they are here pared down for trio.
My own favourite Bley composition gets a play – “The Girl Who Cried Champagne (parts 1,2,3)” (catchy name eh?) and this version is wonderful. Coming in at about 14 minutes and not a second too long. There is a section in part 2, on the version of the song that appears on the Album “Fleur Carnivore” where Karen Mantler (Carla’s daughter) plays a long, slow harmonica solo … it’s one of the most atmospheric and haunting bits of music I know of.
On this version Mantler’s solo is replaced by a solo by Swallow on electric bass – and jeeze it still works.
At 77 it could be thought that Carla is starting to “reflect back” on her past works – and that might be so. But I really hope she has a lot of years’ work left yet – I prefer to see this as an exercise in simply taking stock of what’s been done and perhaps making the odd wee tweak here and there.
I’ve always been a fan of Andy Sheppard and sometimes get a bit “frustrated” that he doesn’t bring out too much material of his own (though when he does it’s generally excellent). He seems to have become a sort of “serial collaborator” these last few years and rather than his own albums he’s to be found working with others. The more he works with Carla Bley the better….her work seems to bring out the best in him.

Doubt I’ll get the chance, but I would love to see this trio live.

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