10 November 1932, Montreal, Canada. Pianist Bley would merit a place in jazz history on the strength of his instincts as a talent scout alone. The legendary Ornette Coleman Quartet (with Don Cherry, Charlie Haden and Billy Higgins) made its earliest impact as four-fifths of Bleys quintet. He encouraged the emergence of wife Carla Bley and Annette Peacock as composers, building his repertoire in the 60s and 70s around their tunes. He had Pat Metheny and Jaco Pastorius in his band when both were callow youths, and was the first to record them.
All of this, however, is of less significance than Bleys own music, the earliest examples of which still seem entirely modern. For 50 years Bley has remained on the cutting edge of creative music, from bebop to free jazz and beyond. At the age of 20, he befriended and played with Charlie Parker. On New Yorks 52nd Street, Jackie McLean and Donald Byrd regularly augmented...
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