Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Paul Bley in Haarlem

A live recording from 1966, this seems to be a typical type of gig Paul Bley was doing with his trio during this time. The versions of tunes are extended, meaning there is only room for two on an LP, one per side. As for the quality of the playing, fans of the pianist would want to hope this is not typical, as this date comes off as kind of uninspired. Of the two pieces, "Blood" is the more aggressive, and Bley seems to lack energy here. Barry Altschul tries mightily, then tries too hard on the flip side, a rhythmically bumbling version of "Mister Joy," in this case credited to Bley rather than Annette Peacock — and not really sounding much like this tune as recorded on the later Bley and Peacock albums with synthesizer. The pianist starts off in a grandiose manner, piling up ringing chords as if hoarding wood for an oncoming snowstorm, even throwing in the sustaining high note flourishes that tend to be one of his acts of desperation. Then he's off the scene, before much of anything has happened, leaving the floor to bassist Mark Levinson, who is quite a boring soloist. The drummer also has a dull, extended solo on the first side — this is nothing like the type of inventive sound effects Altschul would later develop, so the listener will have to make do with a lot of paradiddles and obscure tom-tom messages. Levinson sometimes seems to be pushing at the pianist, but Bley's reaction throughout these performances is to back out of situations. There are a few good bits later in the first side where the pianist seems to be manipulating and muting the sound of the strings by hand, but even alert listeners might have gotten worn out by then. Perhaps Bley is just frustrated that his bassist seems to have no clue when to quit, at one point taking over the proceedings with what sounds like a bumblebee having an encounter with a plate of ravioli.
Eugene Chadbourne

Source :

Paul Bley
Live in Haarlem


1 Blood (Peacock)  18:44
2 Mister Joy (Bley, Peacock)  23:53


Paul Bley - p
Mark Levinson - b
Barry Altschul - dr

Recorded ive at Hildbrandzzal, Haarlem, Netherlands ; November 4, 1966

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