Can it be a coincidence that this CD, subtitled 'Inspiration from Gregorian Chant', was recorded right around the time that chant music was reaching its improbable peak on the album charts? In any case, this enjoyable, offbeat trio album featuring the unusual combination of Bley's piano, David Eyges' electric cello and Bruce Ditmas' drums seems to have very little to do with Gregorian chant per se. Indeed, such numbers as 'Wisecracks' and 'Loose Change' are definitely based on the blues, 'Decompose' has an M-base funk foundation, and 'Funhouse' is a nasty, down-home bit of grooving that eventually becomes engulfed in a swirling maelstrom (so this is from whom Keith Jarrett may have picked up some of his group concepts). Only 'Digitant' seems to breathe some of the ambience of chant in its thematic material. Eyges' cello usually fills in the traditional function of a bass -- albeit a very light-toned bass -- while occasionally forming dissonant arco (bowed) counterlines around the piano. Bley's playing is often brilliantly unpredictable, difficult to categorize, and thus, able to stand out from the pack. --All Music Guide (Richard S. Ginell)
Biographie de l'artiste
Pianist Paul Bley, whose earliest recordings sound like Al Haig or Bud Powell, took the styles and techniques associated with Oscar Peterson, Wynton Kelly and Bill Evans to new levels of creative experimentation, becoming an indispensable force in modern music by combining the best elements in bop and early modern jazz with extended free improvisation and procedural dynamics often found in 20th century chamber music. This approach places him in league with artists as diverse as Red Garland, Elmo Hope, Mal Waldron, Jaki Byard, Stanley Cowell, Keith Jarrett, Andrew Hill, Lennie Tristano, Cecil Taylor, Ran Blake, Sun Ra, and Marilyn Crispell. Even a cursory overview of Bley's life and work can be pleasantly overwhelming, for he is among the most heavily recorded of all jazz pianists and his story is inextricably intertwined with the evolution of modern jazz during the second half of the 20th century. Hyman Paul Bley was born in Montreal, Canada on November 10, 1932. A violin prodigy at five, he began playing piano at eight and studied at the McGill Conservatorium, earning his diploma at age eleven. Before long, Hy 'Buzzy' Bley was sitting in with jazz bands and had formed his own group. Already a skilled pianist, he landed a steady gig at the Alberta Lounge soon after Oscar Peterson left to begin working for Norman Granz in 1949. The following year Bley continued his musical education at the Juilliard School in New York while gigging in the clubs with trumpeter Roy Eldridge, trombonist Bill Harris, and saxophonists Ben Webster, Sonny Rollins, and Charlie Parker. While enrolled at Juilliard he played in a group with trumpeter Donald Byrd, saxophonist Jackie McLean, bassist Doug Watkins, and drummer Art Taylor. He also hung out at Lennie Tristano's residential studio, absorbing ideas.