Paul Bley | Improvisie

Verve/Free America 2 Tracks Recorded 1971, Rotterdam, Netherlands

Pianist Paul Bley is a pioneer and a risk-taker.

Since his 20's he'd been playing alongside Charlie Parker, Lester Young, and Charles Mingus, and just when he'd made a bit of a name for himself playing piano with adventurous clarinetist Jimmy Guiffre and bassist Steve Swallow, he took a chance again and got involved with electronics.

In 1969, Bley and Annette Peacock returned to New York with an infant Moog synthesizer in their arms, and no manual. Bley's questions were: "Problem number one: how did you switch it on? Number two: what do you do to produce a sound? Number three: how do you obtain an attack? A sound alteration? Number four: how do you filter the sound?"

Bley figured out this new machine.

In "Improvisie", single/building/notes/ are sent into the world to float... intervals curl and inch up... a chord occurs, is held... with tinkles and sticks and cymbal splashes, drummer Bennink interrogates the space... and things turn dramatic as the space gets filled... Essentially meditative, the beauty and the feeling of sound / and silence, is artistically explored.

In an extended version of "Touching", Annette Peacock sings, "...dreams that won't come true/All of my dreams are of you/All of my dreams are of you/As the sun is setting slow-ly/As life seems sure to show me, how lonely/and my life's a useless waste, if I can't share its pleasure with you..."

Listen... to voice, the haunted landscape of our feelings, the fleshless electronic waves as they rise up from silence, and get enthused by the rummaging-around-in-the-closet style of Bennink which many of us have come to adore — these are the actual compositional elements of this some time ago recording session which happened on March 26, 1971, in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Music such as this — and a spirit such as Bley's — have prepared the way for the plurality of sounds available in our multi-dimensional and assuredly polyrhythmical sound world of today.

Paul Bley — electric piano, synthesizer
Annette Peacock — piano, electric piano, synthesizer, electric bass, voice
Han Bennink — percussion
We welcome your comments and feedback
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Report by David Fujino
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for The Live Music Report

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