Paul Bley Trio, Closer

Thomas Bartlett

By Thomas Bartlett

on 04.22.11 in Reviews


Paul Bley Trio
An infusion of romantic melodicism into the free jazz idiom.

Paul Bley took Bill Evans 'romantic melodicism and delicate touch with voicings and brought them gracefully into free jazz. His playing can be chaotic, but it's tempered by his thoughtful, deliberate phrasing and use of space. That same thoughtfulness makes Bley a succinct improviser: only three tunes on this disc last for more than three minutes. Eight songs were composed by Bley's wife at the time, Carla Bley, and there's one composition each from Annette Peacock (who would become Bley's second wife) and Ornette Coleman. Joining Bley are Barry Altschul, who would go on to play in the free-jazz supergroup Circle, and bassist Steve Swallow, who would go on to marry Carla Bley. (Oh, the incestuousness of it all!) The trio is at its best on the wistful, almost folky "Ida Lupino," a performance that makes Jarrett's enormous debt to Bley obvious, and on the freewheeling Coleman tune "Crossroads," with a wonderful percussive bass solo from Swallow.