Pianist Paul Bley died on Sunday. He was 83. His family announced his death through ECM Records, a company for which he recorded key quartet, trio and solo albums.
Paul Bley, renowned jazz pianist, died January 3, 2016 at home with his family. Born November 10, 1932 in Montreal, QC, he began music studies at the age of five. At 13, he formed the “Buzzy Bley Band.” At 17, he took over for Oscar Peterson at the Alberta Lounge, invited Charlie Parker to play at the Montreal Jazz Workshop, which he co-founded, made a film with Stan Kenton and then headed to NYC to attend Julliard.
His international career has spanned seven decades. He’s played and recorded with Lester Young, Ben Webster, Sonny Rollins, Charles Mingus, Chet Baker, Jimmy Giuffre, Charlie Haden, Paul Motian, Lee Konitz, Pat Metheny, Jaco Pastorious and many others. He is considered a master of the trio, but as exemplified by his solo piano albums, Paul Bley is preeminently a pianists’ pianist.
He is survived by his wife of forty three years, Carol Goss, their daughters, Vanessa Bley and Angelica Palmer, grandchildren Felix and Zoletta Palmer, as well as daughter Solo Peacock. Private memorial services will be held in Stuart, FL, Cherry Valley, NY and wherever you play a Paul Bley record.
Bley was well underway in developing his intrepid approach to improvisation when, barely 21, he recorded in 1953 as leader of a trio with bassist Charles Mingus and drummer Art Blakey. By 1958, when he was appearing at the Hillcrest Club in Los Angeles, his sense of daring and eagerness to take risks led him to welcome kindred spirits whose departures from bebop orthodoxy had made them persona non grata among much of the L.A. jazz establishment. Bley, alto saxophonist Ornette Coleman, trumpeter Don Cherry, bassist Charlie Haden and drummer Billy Higgins broke through traditionalism into what came to be called free jazz. They helped to liberate jazz musicians from conventional thinking and bring about substantial changes in the art form. Although Bley did not go with them to New York, where they made a major breakthrough, his recognition and encouragement was crucial to the success of the Ornette Coleman quartet.
In a French documentary in the late 1990s, Bley discussed a key point of his musical philosophy and demonstrated solo playing of the kind that brought him acclaim.
Natalie Cole died last Saturday at the age of 65. At first, she was reluctant to become a professional singer for fear of comparison with the success of her father, Nat King Cole. When she did take the plunge, she became a star. The power of her voice was sometimes compared to that of Aretha Franklin, but she pursued a wider stylistic range. Ms. Cole created a major hit when she overdubbed a duet with the voice of her late father in “Unforgettable,” which had been one of his biggest record successes. In the course of her career, which was interrupted more than once by drug problems, she had a number of hit singles, including “I’ve Got Love on My Mind,” “Our Love” and “Someone That I Used to Love.” To many listeners, though, she was at her best in classics of the standard repertoire, including her interpretation of the 1942 Ink Spots best-seller, “Someone’s Rockin’ My Dreamboat.”
Natalie Cole, RIP