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Concert

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LIJF: Liverpool Hope University Big Band performs The Music of Carla Bley

Admission Free
Start Time 13:00
End Time 14:00

This concert has been organised in tribute to the legendary American jazz composer, pianist, organist, and bandleader Carla Bley who passed away recently, in October 2023, aged 87.

Carla Bley was a seminal figure in the free jazz movement of the 1960s and later a prolific composer of music for various ensembles including her own Big Band, which was a group of some of the finest players on the contemporary jazz scene. She was perhaps best known for her jazz opera Escalator over the Hill (released as a triple LP set), as well as a book of compositions that have been performed by many other artists, including Gary Burton, Jimmy Giuffre, George Russell, Art Farmer, Robert Wyatt, John Scofield, and her ex-husband Paul Bley.

Throughout her career, Bley thought of herself as a writer first, describing herself as 99 percent composer and one percent pianist. Early in her career a number of musicians began to record her compositions. George Russell recorded Bent Eagle for his album Stratusphunk in 1960, Jimmy Giuffre recorded Ictus on his album Thesis and Paul Bley’s Barrage consisted entirely of her compositions. She arranged and composed music for bassist Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra, and wrote A Genuine Tong Funeral for vibraphonist Gary Burton.

She also collaborated with a number of other artists, including Jack Bruce, Robert Wyatt, her husband bass player Steve Swallow and Nick Mason (drummer for the rock group Pink Floyd). In fact, Mason’s solo debut album Nick Mason’s Fictitious Sports was written entirely by Bley, and features, alongside Mason on drums, many of her regular band musicians, leading Brian Olewnick of AllMusic to consider it a Carla Bley album in all but name.

Carla Bley released around 30 solo albums many on her own independent label WATT, alongside numerous other collaborative records, continuing throughout her career to record frequently with her own big band (which included Lew Soloff from Blood, Sweat & Tears and famed UK saxophonist Andy Sheppard). She also worked with a number of smaller ensembles, notably the Lost Chords. In 2005, she arranged the music for and performed on Charlie Haden’s latest Liberation Music Orchestra tour and recording, Not in Our Name and her last album, Life Goes On, was released in 2020.

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