Solo performer: Paul Bley (piano).
Recorded at Arne Bendiksen Studio, Oslo, Norway on September 11, 1972.
Personnel: Paul Bley (piano).
This 1972 solo piano album is one of Paul Bley's best--and this from a man who has made many excellent recordings. Beautiful in its brevity, the album is decorated with pieces that evoke the French composers Milhaud and Satie (though Bley is far more obtuse). Three compositions are by Carla Bley, two are by Annette Peacock (his first and second wives, respectively), and another two are by Bley himself. This is a perfectly balanced set. The pieces all ring with chamber-like clarity.
Carla Bley's inventive melodicism is a perfect vehicle for the pianist's similarly inclined improvisations. Her "Ida Lupino," which has been recorded in a number of successful settings (including a vocal version by NRBQ on their 1969 debut), is at its most gorgeous here. Paul Bley's perfectly titled "Harlem" is a blues-based portrait played with equal parts reverence, melancholy and late night exuberance. If you do not possess any Bley albums, this is one to start with. It is a classic in the solo piano idiom as well as a sterling portrait of this subtly bold pianist.