Daily jazz blog, Marlbank

Carla Bley has died aged 87

The death at 87 has been reported in the United States of jazz composer and pianist Carla Bley, one of the most influential players and writers of her time. Bley died at home in New York State following complications due to brain cancer. Her …

Published: 18 Oct 2023. Updated: 7 months.

The death at 87 has been reported in the United States of jazz composer and pianist Carla Bley, one of the most influential players and writers of her time. Bley died at home in New York State following complications due to brain cancer. Her partner bassist Steve Swallow confirmed her passing. Bley's significant contribution to jazz of the last 60 years includes being the original conductor and arranger of the Liberation Music Orchestra and for her 1971 jazz opera Escalator Over the Hill. Her compositions include the much covered 'Lawns' and she also ran her own record labels including the ECM-distributed Watt. Bley won a Guggenheim for composition in 1972 and became an NEA Jazz Master eight years ago. Her final album, Life Goes On, a collaboration with Andy Sheppard and Steve Swallow, was released in 2020. We wrote at the time how Bley's vastly influential sound tunnels back to the deep jazz past and yet she still has one foot in the present given how adept she is at delivering a sense of abstract contemplation that is very now and unsoiled by oversentimentality. Bley was born in California and moved to New York in the 1950s working as a cigarette girl in Birdland and marrying pianist Paul Bley - following divorce she also later married trumpeter Michael Mantler with whom she had a daughter Karen, also a musician.

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John Scofield, Uncle John's Band, ECM ****

There's a lot packed in here on this latest from guitar icon John Scofield. Boomer friendly - there's a cover of Jerry Garcia's Grateful Dead anthem 'Uncle John's Band', Neil Young's 'Old Man' and Bob Dylan's 'Mister Tabourine Man' and the trio …

Published: 17 Oct 2023. Updated: 8 months.

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There's a lot packed in here on this latest from guitar icon John Scofield. Boomer friendly - there's a cover of Jerry Garcia's Grateful Dead anthem 'Uncle John's Band', Neil Young's 'Old Man' and Bob Dylan's 'Mister Tabourine Man' and the trio nestles deep in standards and Sco compositions too. There is such a teasing quality at times in Scofield's lead lines - take 'Nothing Is Forever' for instance. Sco is joined by bassist Vicente Archer and drummer Bill Stewart and you get lots of space with this set-up and sonically some glorious separation in all the instruments so that you can really hear what each is doing. Sco, Stewart and Archer play London at the Forge in London's Camden on 7 and 8 November.