― Tom May, Sunday, 22 December 2002 19:06 (seventeen years ago) link
However, her slightly smaller works from the same time are wonderfull modern big band jazz - Tropic Appetities, 3/4 and Musique Mechanique especially.
Of all the things she's been involved in, the one I love most is Greaves/Blegvad/Hermann's Kew.Rhone. Her participation is minimal but the whole sound of the record is influenced by her aesthetic.
― phil turnbull (philT), Sunday, 22 December 2002 19:22 (seventeen years ago) link
The Charlie Haden/Liberation Music Orchestra rec she wrote/arranged/played piano on is one of the greatest semi-free jazz albs ever made, and I also really like the Paul Bley alb on ESP, 'Barrage', which features lots of early Carla compositions like 'Ictus' (also done by Jimmy Guiffre/Paul Bley/Steve Swallow on their pretty essential 'Fusion' alb from 1961).
― Andrew L (Andrew L), Sunday, 22 December 2002 20:04 (seventeen years ago) link
another wonderful record she arranged is Gary Burton's "A Genuine Tong Funeral"
― JasonD (JasonD), Sunday, 22 December 2002 20:15 (seventeen years ago) link
An all-star jazz/rock concept double-album?! I'd call it a singularly HORRIBLE idea that sounds better than anyone should expect. Slightly less than wonderful, I agree, and from any perspective, a fascinating listen.
― Curt (cgould), Sunday, 22 December 2002 21:16 (seventeen years ago) link
I've never been deeply into her music, but I keep finding Paul Bley or Gary Burton albums that contain awesome tunes that she's written.
― Chris Dahlen (Chris Dahlen), Monday, 23 December 2002 01:02 (seventeen years ago) link
you need the book, and the way the six sides start and end is also kind'a crucial (for instance, the indian sides emerge as a new day/time/continent when played after the noir sides you think you're used to, maybe leaving you imagining you've woken up in a new listening experience altogether)
the book's an lp sized coffee table presentation providing all the hard to decipher lyrics and band configurations and plot setting in chonological order (ie start to finish, quite a concession really), since all this stuff is often going on at the same time so you haven't a hope in hell of working out which character a singer is in, that's if you recognise the singer
my point -- track down someone with the booklet which was originally there in the 3lp box set and copy it or buy it -- 'Escalator ..' is an art object maybe greater than the music itself, yet in these days of de rigeur cd booklets, the cd re-issue of this large evidence of a musical project going in as many driections at once as the number of 'songs' it contains, this double cd doesn't have any of that information, no booklet (it would not have been the same as mere cd booklet size anyway, to be fair)
no photos of all those collaborating musos from '68-'70, no libretto to one of the few 'rock operas' in extended english that you might actually like -- Marcello would've been unable to provide a quarter of the detail he has in his fantastic article/stab at this impossible to pin down art happening thing without the beautifully integrated libretto, and listening to the cd on it's own is going to be very baffling for anyone else without it -- this is music and words you come back to again and again, and a comparison to Alice in Wonderland is at least an attempt to identify the chronotransduction as something -- it's something, and no-one i know who's experienced the lps/music with the booklet hasn't enjoyed it, even if we can't agree on anything else about it
except maybe that it's an artifact from when the left and hippy attitudes within the avant music and lit circles connected and allowed something on this scale to happen, when rock stars and avant jazz cats really worked together in a response to the perceived limitations of the "sgt. peppers culture" of the times
― george gosset (gegoss), Monday, 23 December 2002 05:37 (seventeen years ago) link
― gaz (gaz), Monday, 23 December 2002 10:48 (seventeen years ago) link
for most of theses weird one off projects by bley or mantler there are fellow travellers, some who would emerge years after these recording from '68-'72 for completely different big deal reasons elsewhere, like the drummer from pink floyd who stayed loyal to this alternative musical community (a bunch of pretty close friends) whatever you think of any other of his achievements
that this 'escalator..' thing can drag in such apparently commercially incompatible musos and prove that idea wrong and let them jel without having to worry about what the public thought, to let jazz and pop stars work side-by-side without the whole project being critically and popularly panned in 1970, well you couldn't do it now (sting on bass etc), but it really worked then, completely at odds with the pop music or even head music markets -- and it sounds genuine
― george gosset (gegoss), Monday, 23 December 2002 11:24 (seventeen years ago) link
― phil jones (interstar), Monday, 23 December 2002 12:46 (seventeen years ago) link
― phil turnbull (philT), Monday, 23 December 2002 19:12 (seventeen years ago) link
All I can say is... it is unfathomable, and deeply compelling. Not sure if it's possible to 'get to the bottom of it' but I am hooked.
― Tom May (Tom May), Saturday, 14 June 2003 00:13 (seventeen years ago) link
― Andrew L (Andrew L), Saturday, 14 June 2003 06:50 (seventeen years ago) link
― Julio Desouza (jdesouza), Saturday, 14 June 2003 08:11 (seventeen years ago) link
― Dadaismus (Dada), Wednesday, 18 June 2003 14:32 (seventeen years ago) link
― zebedee (zebedee), Wednesday, 18 June 2003 15:12 (seventeen years ago) link
the carla bley band "live european tour 1977" record is really, really great. that would be my OPO (not counting "liberation music orchestra" which is probably my all time favorite "jazz" record).
― j fail (cenotaph), Wednesday, 18 June 2003 17:58 (seventeen years ago) link
Tropic Appetites is more collab. with (the late) Paul Haines, "poet" and Gato & smaller jazzish ensemble, so the songs have words and cover all sorts of ranges (more singing from Karen Mantler now aged aprox. 6, deep bass singing from Howard Johnson also playing bass clarinet, tuba, bass sax, Julie Tippetts vocals qua Linda Rondstadt) -- a mini-Escalator .. with it's Indian noir scene-through-Bombay-gin-bottle
3/4 orchestral comp. shared lp with Mantler's heavier 13, pretty cool "serious" music
(Karen Mantler's "KM and her cat Arnold get the flu" is a bit frivolous musically, and lyrically KM is still in her early twenties)
― george gosset (gegoss), Wednesday, 18 June 2003 22:31 (seventeen years ago) link
i kind'a agree with what Marcello is hinting at re Carla in this thread
after carla bley stopped collaborating with myriad mutually influencing people from paul haines through to gato barbieri those extreme left-field elements of her work lost their broader sense of fun, as she qua composer/ conductor/ dictator began to stick to just her own ideas, and maybe she'd exhausted the possibilities of trad. Spanish and Austrian elements in her work that produced a fine, slight, subtle humourtoo many romps and swirls, heavy handed waltzes and all those imported recycled elements, her music began to sound the same -- so did she just have a few key ideas of how to achieve things with medium-sized ensembles ? and were (as is so often generally the case) all here good ideas all pretty well accomplished and realised on Libration Orchestra, Tong Funeral, Escalator .., 3/4 and Tropic Appetites anyway, given that these were here first opportunity to record her ideas as whole big scale works, and that these ideas must have all gestated to fruition over a five year period '67 onwards ? (Escalator .. was an on/off three year work in progress, depending on who was available, acceptable recording studio etc. i suppose)i think it was when carla bley abondoned the method of active cooperation and collaboration with as many other guests as possible that her music started to seem like the same joke being told once too oftenmaybe the influence of her supposedly serious-minded partner mantler and their collective baby "WATT records" left her feeling like a "composer" ? (like frank zappa's unfortunate "one man's vision against a world of unifomity and conformity", panned elsewhere recently here on ILM, and definitely an example of how _not_ to attempt humour in music) really she was at her best as a band leader
maybe it's that the musical jokes don't stand alone -- ie the accompanying narrative from haines in some of these projects provides the right measure of absurd/surreal glue to allow them to work as a whole
OK the landmark Jazz Composers Orchestra double lp of '68 had elements of humour in the sense of "everyone is having a seriously good time playing on this session", and it also had all those beaut extra frills, giving it that momentous "bomb has landed" feeling of event, an over-the-top feeling of momentousness that has been referred to as Wagnerian -- the serious-side, the _new_ _academy_ of new york, evidence of the cohesion of the Jazz Composers Guild, "the new thing", the consequences of the "October revolution" etc..
so husband Michael Mantler "produces" and "composes" these lavish orchestral bedrocks for some of the most accomplished "improvisers" of this new scene, a 2lp event, on Jazz Composers Orchestra (on JCOA, that's Jazz Composer Orchestra records) and in 1970 wife Carl Bley lets Escalator Over the Hill out of the studio after three years out there, three years of on off seesions, that 3lp album again on JCOA, as a complimentary walk on the wild side/ psychedilc freak out/ top-class improvisers & session musos of nyc respond to the beatles, the east, the new dawn of consciousness eminating from Haight/Ashbury, hippies yipies mystics poets students activists politics "freedoms" etc.. etc..
well with the Jazz Composers Orchestra project providing such a useful, almost popular/ contemporary music jumping in point for so many people into "free jazz" (i've always assumed this was the reason people like Sanders, Cherry and Taylor allowed Mantler to be "composer" at all) it's probably even cooler than Escalator .. -- what do you think of it Marcello ?
but i think both projects worked because the old pyramid shaped scheme of having a "composer" thinking up the whole thing was sacrificed, and all this collaboration with improvisors, poets, creative people providing all sorts of different input was allowed ..
yet Mantler and Bley respectively ended up picking up "composer" credits, and so i suppose entitlement to royalties and the like, but maybe that was simply to make the "red tape" on two such awesome multi-person collaborative projects go smoothly
that this creative couple went on to set up "WATT Records" which like "JCOA" seemed to be a part of ECM records as umbrella organisationm, well i guess that meant they could afford to do that, that they had patrons, that they had the respect of lots of people (they set up the "new music distribution" service, a forced exposure type distribution system for all the new sorts of category of records that were appearing (I don't know much about this service, but books speak highly of it -- anybody know anything about that ? )
that few of these improvisors collaborated with Bley and Mantlere again, well i dunno what that means (and Mantler did collaborations with Harold Pinter (narrative), and musically with Jack Bruce, Robert Wyatt et. al.) -- these two enormous collaborative projects can both be labelled successes, both artistically on their own feet and in providing exposure for so many really intreresting new musicians that represented the 'tommorrow' of music in 1970)
but it's not disputed that Mantler's projects in the '70s became serious affairs (OK Sam Beckett has absurd qualities as source of words, and the glumness of the sound of that words/music project, well there's humour in the insistant unrelenting glumness i suppose, a black humour of the Mike Leigh variety perhaps), and the supposed levity in Bley's stuff, well that is the humour of pomp and outrageous excess, but humour confined to instrumental music
my conclusion : once the get-down jam-session methods of the collaborations with jazz improvisors were dropped, the humour in Bley's work seems a bit forced, as though, to take an example of an early lp of hers from the '70s, reading the titles to the instrumentals on her Social Stuies is meant to add point, context, and maybe "is this funny or ironic or sarcastic or serious" subtext to her music, music which still bumps and grinds and wheezes like Austrian beer hall or English music hall bands
― george gosset (gegoss), Thursday, 26 June 2003 03:35 (seventeen years ago) link
I once spoke to Jimmy Knepper - who I see passed on a couple of weeks ago, RIP - about the sessions (and also those for Genuine Tong Funeral & Escalator). He was a big Bley fan and a friend/patron of Roswell Rudd, both of whom persuaded him to play on the JCOA album. He admitted to feeling somewhat bewildered by the whole thing ("it was tougher even than Mingus") but recalled that the orchestra fell about in stitches when Beaver Harris inadvertently started playing 4/4 time halfway through a take. "Don't be fucking playing tempo in my fucking band!" yelled Herr Mantler (Knepper: "He [Mantler] could get far too intense about things").
As it happens, I reckon Communications is, like Don Ellis' big band work, one of these possibilities for large-scale improvising/composing which the artist never really followed through. The crucial thing was that the record went against the grain of soloist plus accompaniment; each was fully integrated into the other, each depended on the other to propel the music/playing along. Except of course for Cecil T, who was wisely left to do his own thing, and brought Lyons, Silva and Cyrille with him.
Rudd and Sanders' solo features (on Communications No 10 and Preview respectively) might well be the best and most concentrated playing either achieved on record. And Cecil is in enjoyably belligerent mood throughout the second half, Cyrille thrashing and rattling to keep up, Silva doing rather a better job of keeping up. The only question mark I have is Larry Coryell's feature; his weird blend of Wes Montgomery and Hendrix makes him sound at times like a prototype Mike Oldfield, and significantly he's the only soloist here who is at times actually drowned out by the orchestra (then again, look at his poses on the sleeve, feedbacking like mad, losing his hat in the process).
As for Mantler's subsequent work, I admire No Answer (with Jack Bruce and Don Cherry) and The Hapless Child immensely, the latter involving perhaps the best small group he ever assembled (Robert Wyatt on vocals, Bley, Terje Rypdal, Steve Swallow & Jack De Johnette) but felt that he kind of lost his way thereafter, or I lost my way with him.
Carla - there are irritating isolated moments of potential greatness in her post-Tropic Appetites work, but too often it's overwhelmed by unfunny stock gag routines (especially on Nick Mason's Fictitious Sports, where she tried to re-establish a relationship with "pop") and/or substandard musicians. I've never thought Gary Valente as anything other than a dim substitute for Rudd, and she needs musicians with rather more fire than overly polite Andy Sheppard, Lew Soloff etc. The same problem Mike Westbrook has, more or less - a band full of well-behaved NYJO graduates, but not a John Surman, Mike Osborne or George Khan amongst them.
I remember Mark S doing an interesting "she's subversive on the quiet" attempt on reviewing one of her mid-'80s muzak albums - "Night-Glo" I think it was - and it was a nice try but to me it still fundamentally sounded like complacent muzak rather than subversive stasis. I kept waiting for Peter Brotzmann to walk in and blow the whole smug structure to pieces (and the Brotz did work in the Bley/Mantler Jazz Realities band on their '67 European tour - Bley was apparently very traumatised by Brotzmann's playing and never quite lost her suspicion of free jazz thereafter).
Also, compare and contrast "Liberation Music Orchestra" with "Ballad Of The Fallen" - despair had snuffed out any fire.
― Marcello Carlin, Thursday, 26 June 2003 09:15 (seventeen years ago) link
I'd like to know more abt Don Ellis, he seems interesting
― Andrew L (Andrew L), Thursday, 26 June 2003 09:39 (seventeen years ago) link
― mark s (mark s), Thursday, 26 June 2003 10:47 (seventeen years ago) link
Send it to me!
(I like Night-Glo a lot: though I certainly can't blame anyone else for not being a fan, it gave me some very real insights when I needed them badly [8th grade] and I'm still quite attached to the record...but I still don't own it!)
― Phil (phil), Thursday, 26 June 2003 23:45 (seventeen years ago) link
Main reason I'm posting here is to clear out something I saw above; the CD version of this DOES come with a book, not a regular jewel case booklet either, but a separate one that's held together with the jewelcase in a slipcase (see: Sgt Peppers Lonely Buns Club Band)
Also, I bought this brand new from ECM, so it should be quite in print, at least here in Europe. Anyhoo, back to listening and scrambling around the board to read about it.
― Øystein Holm-Olsen (Øystein H-O), Saturday, 9 August 2003 22:06 (seventeen years ago) link
Yes the thread was about Carla, but it seems unfair to exclude someone with the same hairstyle.
― dlp9001, Sunday, 10 August 2003 00:00 (seventeen years ago) link
― george gosset (gegoss), Monday, 11 August 2003 15:53 (seventeen years ago) link
― charltonlido (gareth), Thursday, 19 May 2005 06:12 (fifteen years ago) link
― Marcello Carlin (nostudium), Thursday, 19 May 2005 06:17 (fifteen years ago) link
― charltonlido (gareth), Thursday, 19 May 2005 06:54 (fifteen years ago) link
never did get this, but i did get dinner music
― 696, Tuesday, 12 June 2007 09:30 (thirteen years ago) link
What did you make of it (don't say "dinner")?
― Marcello Carlin, Tuesday, 12 June 2007 09:32 (thirteen years ago) link
only played the first track so far, it sounds very...slick, pastichey? it makes me think of Surrey, for some reason
― 696, Tuesday, 12 June 2007 09:48 (thirteen years ago) link
It comes across to me as a satire on fusion muzak which doesn't quite come off but "Dining Alone" is a great song and "Ida Lupino," featuring CB's Jonathan Richman-style saxophone playing, was obviously heard by Smokey Robinson (cf. brass harmonies here and vocal harmonies in the verses to "Being With You").
― Marcello Carlin, Tuesday, 12 June 2007 09:53 (thirteen years ago) link
have you seen the cover of the new emily haines album, marcello?
― alex in mainhattan, Tuesday, 12 June 2007 12:32 (thirteen years ago) link
have you read the extensive review of the new emily haines album which i posted on my blog six months ago, alex?
― Marcello Carlin, Tuesday, 12 June 2007 12:32 (thirteen years ago) link
not yet. is it that old? anyways i always try to save the good things for later...
― alex in mainhattan, Tuesday, 12 June 2007 12:38 (thirteen years ago) link
shit, now i realise that i know that album. at least parts of it. i hadn't seen the cover though. this is a rare case where the internet made me focus on the music without being distracted by images.
― alex in mainhattan, Tuesday, 12 June 2007 12:48 (thirteen years ago) link
Actually I posted that review eight months ago - doesn't time fly etc.
Since this pathetic fucking retarded system won't let me link TO MY OWN BLOG go to CoM, look up Oct 2006 archives, why should I do all the work...
― Marcello Carlin, Tuesday, 12 June 2007 13:01 (thirteen years ago) link
sorry for the hiccup when (re)loading this thread. i guess that is the discogs website telling me that i shouldn't try to link to their album cover images...
maybe the system knows it is your site, marcello. and it doesn't allow shameless self-promotion. but i as a third party can link there. ;-)
― alex in mainhattan, Tuesday, 12 June 2007 13:22 (thirteen years ago) link
I fucking LOVE Carla Bley.
Faves are:-Escalator Over The Hill-Music Mechanique-her compositions on some of the early paul bley LPs (esp the "Closer" LP on ESP.)
Just listening to Escalator Over The Hill again today and it really smokes my bacon.
― ian, Wednesday, 11 February 2009 02:53 (eleven years ago) link
EOTH is awesome, my favorite opening of a jazz album next to saint & the sinner lady
― 鬼の手 (Edward III), Wednesday, 11 February 2009 03:28 (eleven years ago) link
I love Carla Bley
― kurt schwitterz, Thursday, 24 May 2018 18:14 (two years ago) link
She just turned 82
I just played a show with the guys from 0ingo B0ingo and Slugg0 told me Carla and Ann3tte Peac0ck hated each other back in the day
― kurt schwitterz, Thursday, 24 May 2018 18:15 (two years ago) link
Another heart-stopping thread revive.
― Poisoned by Johan's pea soup. (Tom D.), Thursday, 24 May 2018 18:16 (two years ago) link
Fuck you! S - Tropic Appetites, Dinner Music, Musique Mecanique and Social Studies. That Michael Mantler album with Robert Wyatt and Edward Gorey lyrics is off the hook too.
― kurt schwitterz, Thursday, 24 May 2018 18:19 (two years ago) link
... in the sense that I thought she was dead, you lunatic.
― Poisoned by Johan's pea soup. (Tom D.), Thursday, 24 May 2018 18:20 (two years ago) link
haha sorry. happy bday CB!
― kurt schwitterz, Thursday, 24 May 2018 18:21 (two years ago) link
I posted a Morricone song yesterday and ppl got mad cux they thought he was dead. I gotta calm down.
― kurt schwitterz, Thursday, 24 May 2018 18:22 (two years ago) link
just off to revive the Sonny Rollins thread:p
― calzino, Thursday, 24 May 2018 18:24 (two years ago) link
She did some awesome arrangements on Haden's The Ballad of The Fallen as well.
― calzino, Thursday, 24 May 2018 18:27 (two years ago) link
Gary Burton, "Genuine Tong Funeral"
― Poisoned by Johan's pea soup. (Tom D.), Thursday, 24 May 2018 18:28 (two years ago) link
Searching that out now
― kurt schwitterz, Thursday, 24 May 2018 18:29 (two years ago) link
I discovered Nick Mason's Fictitious Sports this year and it's up there with my favorites of hers.
― cwkiii, Thursday, 24 May 2018 18:33 (two years ago) link
Inspired by Downtown Music Gallery's enewsletter LP sale, I checked several listed albums featuring Bley, sale list and comments here: Rolling Jazz Thread 2018, little bit here too: Robert Wyatt: Classic or Dud?
Spotify has a bunch more.
― dow, Thursday, 24 May 2018 19:06 (two years ago) link
Or some more, at least.
― Poisoned by Johan's pea soup. (Tom D.), Thursday, 24 May 2018 18:28 (thirty-eight minutes ago) Permalink
Gary Burton Quartet's "Dreams So Real" as well
― chr1sb3singer, Thursday, 24 May 2018 19:10 (two years ago) link
such dedication to a hairdo.
― scott seward, Thursday, 24 May 2018 19:12 (two years ago) link
this is really good by the way. if you want something more current.
― scott seward, Thursday, 24 May 2018 19:13 (two years ago) link
also best birth name: Lovella May Borg
― scott seward, Thursday, 24 May 2018 19:15 (two years ago) link
I get pathetically teary when I play Silence (off The Ballad of the Fallen), to me it's a profoundly sad and moving piece of music and it also makes me think of people who are gone for some reason. But anyway, basically Carla Bley is definitely classic and I should catch up on some of her newer stuff.
― calzino, Thursday, 24 May 2018 19:20 (two years ago) link
► Pre-order Carla Bley Trio: ‘Life Goes On’ and listen to the title track here: https://t.co/MRioVypy9p A striking album of new music from Carla Bley, whose trio with Andy Sheppard and Steve Swallow is now in its 25th year. pic.twitter.com/QNLqRjY2Y0— ECM Records (@ECMRecords) January 10, 2020
― calzino, Friday, 10 January 2020 11:35 (eight months ago) link