Source: The New Yorker.
Every jazz fan knows the name of Carla Bley, but her relentless productivity and constant reinvention can make it difficult to grasp her contribution to music. I began listening to her in high school when I was enamored with the pianist Paul Bley, whose seminal nineteen-sixties LPs were filled with Carla Bley compositions. (The two were married.) My small home-town library also had a copy of “The Carla Bley Band: European Tour 1977,” a superb disk of rowdy horn soloists carousing through instantly memorable Bley compositions and arrangements. Some pieces change you forever. The deadly serious yet hilarious “Spangled Banner Minor and Other Patriotic Songs,” from that 1977 recording, celebrates and defaces several nationalistic themes, beginning with the American national anthem recast as Beethoven’s “Appassionata” Sonata. From the first notes onward, I was never quite the same again.