Thursday, December 26, 2013

Carla Bley, Andy Sheppard, Steve Swallow, Trios

By now I would imagine anybody who knows the music knows that Carla Bley has created an extraordinary body of jazz compositions and arrangements, become an excellent pianist of her own sort, and a bandleader of great imagination. For Trios (ECM 2287) she pairs down to a threesome of note: her partner Steve Swallow on electric bass (and isn't it time we recognize just how wonderful a player he has become on that instrument?) and Andy Sheppard on soprano and tenor.

It goes back as far as "Vashkar" (which is a thrill to hear again) and then forward to new things. This is one of those intent yet slowly unwinding sets that Carla and Company do live. But with Manfred Eicher's production touch it is an acoustically stunning setting as well.

There is Sheppard's sometimes post-Garbarekian tone and his own musical sense, a thing of real sonance and very smart note choice, Carla's ever-evolving introspection in extroversion internal-external piano style and the so-musical electric bass of Steve. He never lets you forget that this is a bass GUITAR, both in his ensemble playing and especially in his solo moments.

All three work together to make this more than "just" jazz composition, though of course it is that.

The music hums along like an infinite top, never needing rewinding (at least not by anyone listening). The hard work playing, writing, getting a threesome that sounds just right. All that was long accomplished before the studio date. This is not effortless music; it just sounds that way.

And it rewards! Thank you Carla, Steve, Andy!

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