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Celebrate Carla Bley

Carla Bley (born Lovella May Borg; May 11, 1936 – October 17, 2023)

Carla Bley was an American jazz composer, pianist, organist, and bandleader and an important figure in the free jazz movement of the 1960s.

She is perhaps best known for her jazz opera Escalator Over the Hill (released 1971 as a triple LP set), as well as a book of compositions that have been performed by many other artists, including Gary Burton, Jimmy Giuffre, George Russell, Art Farmer, John Scofield, and her ex-husband Paul Bley.

In recent years she recorded a series of sublime albums for ECM, the most recent of which was (ironically, perhaps mischievously) entitled Life Goes On in 2020.

Bley was a pioneer in the development of independent artist-owned record labels and recorded over two dozen albums from 1966.

In an article published upon her death, Jazzwise noted that she loved to laugh.

She thought it hugely funny when, on her first tour Europe of Europe, the audience pelted her and her band with fruit and the occasional bottle. Delighted, she said she started throwing it all back at the audience, and as her band joined in the melee she was in stitches.

“It was so wonderfully funny,” she related, “It was like something out of Buster Keaton, those old black and white movies. Who else gets fruit thrown at them? I loved every moment.” Her sense of humour was, perhaps, one of the most misunderstood aspects of her music; a case in point, her 1977 track ‘Spangled Banner Minor and Other Patriotic Songs’ from The Carla Bley Band album took aim at nationalism. Po-faced critics called it “subversive,” “provocative,” or “avant garde.” It was hilarious.

Link to SunNeverSetsOnMusic's "Celebrate Carla Bley" playlist

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