Carla Bley at the Monterey Festival
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Pianist Carla Bley was only 19 when she left California's Bay Area for
New York in the late 1950s. She worked for awhile as a cigarette girl
at Birdland, and met pianist Paul Bley. He and others championed her
experimental tunes, with their daring and humorous departures from the
In the mid-'60s, Carla and trumpeter Mike Mantler, her second husband,
founded the Jazz Composers' Orchestra to play free-jazz compositions.
Carla would dig into the piano, swaying like a musical blonde haystack.
Carla and Mike formed their own record company. They also had a
daughter, Karen Mantler, who today writes music herself. Over a
lifetime of composing (which Carla says is a satisfying but not very
enjoyable activity), Bley has created a large body of work that is both
satisfying AND very enjoyable to listen to.
This time on JazzSet, we'll hear the prize-winning composer's new
four-part suite, commissioned by the 2005 Monterey Jazz Festival and
performed by a 17-piece band. The sounds are intriguing, dissonant,
emotional, sometimes raunchy, and the soloists seem to be having FUN.
So does the audience, and so will you, listening to Appearing Nightly at
The Black Orchid on JazzSet.
The story behind the commission is that, at age 17, Carla had her first
and last job as a cocktail pianist at a Monterey club called the Black
Orchid. She was not yet an improviser. As she recalled, "I did Richard
Rodgers pieces - things like 'Where or When,' or 'Hello, Young Lovers.'
One night one of the soldiers at the bar asked me to play 'Hello,
Dolly,' and I was so grossed out! I just did what I wanted to do . . ."
Bley plans to record Appearing Nightly at the Black Orchid, along
with additional music she's writing in the Tin Pan Alley tradition. As
we've come to expect, her approach will be original. Her current CD is
Lost Chords (ital) on the Watt/ECM label, with her partner, bassist
Steve Swallow, Andy Sheppard and Billy Drummond.
Mary Fettig, alto sax
George Young, alto sax
Roger Eddy, tenor sax
Andy Sheppard, tenor sax
Ray Loekle, baritone sax
Steve Campos, trumpet
Louis Fasman, trumpet
Mike Olmos, trumpet
John Worley, trumpet
Marc Bolin, trombone
Dave Martell, trombone
Hart Smith, trombone
Marty Wehner, trombone
Weber Iago, organ
Steve Swallow, bass
Bill Drummond, drums
"On Stage in Cages"
"Appearing Nightly at The Black Orchid"
"Movement 1 - 40 On/20 Off"
"Movement 2 - Second Round"
"Movement 3 - What Would You Like to Hear?"
"Movement 4 - Last Call"
Carla Brey Biography
Monterey Jazz Festival
Tim Jackson is executive director of the Monterey Jazz Festival.
Field producer and music mixer is Ron Davis and his crew from A Wing and
a Prayer sound company.
Writer Jill McManus.
Technical Director Duke Markos.
Producer Becca Pulliam
Executive Producer Thurston Briscoe III @ Jazz 88 WBGO in Newark, NJ
Copyright 2007 NPR