Saturday, February 11, 2017

Paul Bley & Dave Pike

In 1957, 24-year-old Canadian-born pianist Paul Bley was quite an adept bebop player while also adopting the cerebral and cool California style that would identify and propel Dave Brubeck to stardom. The title Solemn Meditation is a bit misleading in that there's little chamber-styled jazz here, but these Hollywood sessions for the GNP Crescendo label do signify Bley's progressive modus operandi as being both for and ahead of the times. This CD contains the recording Solemn Meditation with an outstanding combo of young vibraphonist Dave Pike, a new bassist on the scene named Charlie Haden, and a talented drummer in Lenny McBrowne, who would become a staple on the mainstream and soul-jazz front. Of the interpretations, Dizzy Gillespie's "Birk Works" is a loose version featuring some jungle drumming, "Porgy" sounds calculated yet is rendered bluesy, and the lesser-known Bill Harris song "Everywhere" is a discriminating ballad with Pike's vibes shimmering with every phrase. Carla Borg (before marrying Paul Bley) penned "O Plus One," a darkly hued, introspective piece, while Paul Bley contributes the bouncy McBrowne feature "Drum Two" and the witty "Beau Didley," a tongue-in-cheek blues. Pike's "Persian Village" has the stamp of early world music in its relaxed swing and palpable interplay. This CD also contains the long out of print Gene Norman production on the Whippet label, The Jazz Couriers, an LP featuring Pike and pianist Eugene Russell in a quartet setting. This recording more fully lives up to the "Solemn Meditation" tag, sounding much like the Modern Jazz Quartet. Of the ten selections, Pike again delves into ethnic overtones during the facile Latin/Asian amalgams of "Polynesia" and a wonderful take on "I'll Remember April." The controlled California cool of "Lullaby of the Leaves" and "Pike's Peak" perfectly reflects the mood of the era, while the quaint "Triangle" and cute "Goody Speaks" display the muted chamber techniques welded onto inspired swing that were the domain of the MJQ. More riff-oriented, "For the Love of Pike" cuts the rhythm team of bassist John Goodman and drummer Reed Vaughan loose a bit, while the Sonny Rollins number "Valse Hot" is turned down considerably in a polite reading. These sessions with the Jazz Couriers precede Pike's work with Paul Bley by about nine months, both recordings giving the listener an opportunity to hear the vibraphonist in a developmental stage. Not even out of his teens after having left his native Detroit for the West Coast, Dave Pike is heard in his salad days as an already mature performer, though still standing in the shadows of fellow Motowner Milt Jackson. This valuable document for Pike primarily and Bley secondarily will bring great, long-lasting, and repeated pleasurable listenings of solid modern jazz that moves away from conventional wisdom while also sticking with solidly proven tradition.
Michael G. Nastos

Source :

Paul Bley
 Dave Pike
Solemn Meditation
[Bonus Tracks]


1 Birk's Works (Gillespie)  6:03
2 O Plus One (Borg)  3:17
3 Porgy (Gershwin)  3:40
4 Solemn Meditation (Gill)  3:34
5 I Remember Harlem (Astor, Eldridge, Williams)  3:42
6 Drum Two (Bley)  3:06
7 Everywhere (Harris)  4:04
8 Beau Didley (Bley)  5:33
9 Persian Village (Pike)  3:28


Gene Norman Presents
The Jazz


10 Triangle (Goodman, Pike, Russell)  3:25
11 Valse Hot (Rollins)  4:20
12 Lullaby of the Leaves (Petkere)  4:36
13 You Go to My Head (Coots, Gillespie)  5:07
14 For the Love of Pike (Pike)  3:33
15 Goody Speaks (Goodman)  3:47
16 Polynesia (Pike)  3:29
17 I'll Remember April (DePaul, Johnston, Ray)  5:27
18 Willow Weep for Me (Ronell)  3:53
19 Pike's Peak (Pike)  5:45


Personnel [# 1-9] from the album "Solemn Meditation" (GNP Crescendo GNP-31)
Paul Bley - p
Dave Pike - vb
Charlie Haden - b
Lennie McBrowne - dr
Recorded at Audio Art Studios, Hollywood, Claifornia ; August 21, 1957
[# 10-19] from the album "The Jazz Courier" (Whippet WLP-700)
Eugene Russell - p
Dave Pike - vb
John Goodman - b
Reed Vaughan- dr
Recorded at Eccles Sound Studios, Hollywood, California ; November 2 & 13, 1956


the jazzman said...

I have been looking for the Jazz Couriers album for the longest time. After searching and searching I had forgotten all about it and now you have provided it. Many thanks. One more off the list of long forgotten but still searching for albums.

d3lta said...

Paul Bley & Dave Pike, now that's a combination, many thanks Mel!

ita diegues said...

Thank you Melanchthon, I would not imagine this two together.

Axel.T. said...

Thank you. this is an oldie but a goodie!

Kovina Kris said...

Paul Bley is such a thoughtful and expressive musician and I am also a big fan of the vibes and Dave Pike so this one is really a treat. Thank you!

swingingduck said...

Mel, many thanks for this Paul Bley/Dave Pike collaboration.

rowgatien said...

Quite a fit is this Jazz Couriers for a Sunday evening. Thank you very much.

itr said...

Many thanks, Mel. Fine record.

Bhowani said...

Bley and Pike Jazz couriers

la carpe et le lapin ? ok let's see the result !

Thank you beaucoup for these 2 unexpected sessions!!!!!

grumpy said...

Many thanks Mel for the Bley & Pike.

duck said...

I'm late but no problem, thanks again Mel. you are full of surprises

L.O.L. said...


Davidscott789 said...

Thank you!

greenishthing said...


Luis said...

Thank you Melanchthon. It's nice to listen to young Paul Bley knowing how he developed from there. Merci

El Tortuga said...

i missed this one the first time around. thank you so much for a second chance. really nice, these Bley/Pike sides, thans a lot!

Foth said...

So good to see you back, Mel. I missed you and your brilliant site. And thanks for this, another long lost treasure,

deGallo said...

Love this! Thank you

Prof. Yaffle said...

Many thanks

marty123 said...

Hi there.
Great site.
Thanks a lot

Mike said...

Great stuff! Thanks.

musician3 said...

AMAZING...........................THANK YOU FOR ALL

daniel genovese said...


Newlyner said...

Had this once. Lost it. Got it again thanks to you Mel.

Jazzsoulman said...

Thank You

AmyBRAINS said...

Thanks a lot, Melancthon.

Alberto Varela said...

Muchísimas Gracias. Desconocía estos dos LPs- Muy Buenos.

Melanchthon said...

Pedro del Castillo Alonso said...

Thank you Mel

zoltanzylox said...

Thanks Mel!

Fred Archtop said...

Thanks a bunch Mel !

WOODY said...

Wonderful share so I say THANKS!
Fantastic gem as my special interest as vibes-lover could be considered again.

sep troelstra said...

Many thanks!!

upkerry14 said...

When I saw the cover I had to laugh.Hokey, but I'll bet the music isn't! thanks.