Carla Bley, Life Goes On

Carla Bley, Life Goes On

1/3/2021

Author: Karsten Hein

Category: Audiophile Music

Tag: Jazz

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Following the recommendations on The Guardian’s 10 best jazz albums of 2020 list, I felt compelled to go ahead and purchase Carla Bley’s "Life Goes On" studio album on vinyl and have since been very pleased with my choice. 

Carla Bley is an American Jazz composer, pianist, organist, and bandleader. She was born as Lovella May Borg in Oakland California  in 1936 and has been an important figure in the 'Free Jazz' movement since the 1960s, with many of her compositions having been covered by other Jazz artists.

"Life goes on" was released by ECM records in February 2020. ECM is famous for producing exceptional recordings, and "Life goes on" is in keeping with this tradition, in that it provides at a rare level of sophistication, both musically and technically. Playing the piano in her longtime trio with bassist Steve Swallow and British saxophonist Andy Sheppard, Bley teases us with a combination of musical understatement and seamless perfection. She says about the album: “We’re essentially a chamber music ensemble and this allows me to write music for us free of bombast and exaggeration”. 

Without a drummer in their midst, the emotionally compelling arrangement leaves sufficient time and room around each instrument. Instead of being highly condensed and descriptive, the album rather invites its listeners to follow their own thoughts for a while. Having listened to the recording about five times, I have not been able to either stay focused on the music nor to turn it off before having listened to the entire album. 

I find myself getting lost in my thoughts, and I crave for the music to continue—eternally. As if the mind cannot exist without it anymore. Well done, and highly addictive for meditative and audiophile nighttime listening.