Carla Bley / Andy Sheppard / Steve Swallow
California-born Carla Bley once attributed her originality as a composer – she is self-taught – to blissful ignorance of “right” and “wrong” ways to write a song. Her early role models included Thelonious Monk, Erik Satie and Miles Davis, all of whom achieved much with few notes. However, Bley’s work also includes maximalist pieces such as the epic “chronotransduction” Escalator over the Hill, an album of Fancy Chamber Music, and many spirited pieces for big band. Nat Hentoff has said that “her scores for jazz big bands are matched only by those of Duke Ellington and Charles Mingus for yearning lyricism, explosive exultation and other expressions of the human condition”.
For forty years Bley has documented her music on WATT, the ECM-distributed sibling label she co-founded with Michael Mantler and today runs with Steve Swallow. So despite her long association with ECM, Trios (2013) marked Carla Bley’s first appearance on the label itself. In partnership with Andy Sheppard (tenor and soprano saxophones), Steve Swallow (bass) she revisited classic Bley compositions in an exceptional album recorded in Lugano in 2012. John Kelman (All About Jazz ) said of it: “Without muss or fuss, Bley, Swallow and Sheppard have, with Trios, created that most perfect of chamber records, filled with shrewd surprises and a delicate dramaturgy that reveals itself further with each and every listen.”
Carla Bley was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1972 for music composition. In 2009, she was awarded the German Jazz Trophy “A Life for Jazz”. She is the recipient of the 2015 NEA Jazz Masters Award.