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Big Band Theory
Carla Bley
Big Band Theory
Genres: Jazz, Pop
 
  •  Track Listings (4) - Disc #1

Carla Bley's big-band theory is put into fine practice on this recording with her characteristically stacked and tight lineup of British, European, and American players. English saxophonist Andy Sheppard, also a member of ...  more »

      
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CD Details

All Artists: Carla Bley
Title: Big Band Theory
Members Wishing: 3
Total Copies: 0
Label: Ecm Import
Release Date: 6/27/2000
Album Type: Original recording reissued, Import
Genres: Jazz, Pop
Styles: Avant Garde & Free Jazz, Modern Postbebop, Swing Jazz, Bebop
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 731451996627

Synopsis

Amazon.com
Carla Bley's big-band theory is put into fine practice on this recording with her characteristically stacked and tight lineup of British, European, and American players. English saxophonist Andy Sheppard, also a member of George Russell's idiosyncratic large ensemble, is the most prominent soloist. He teases, flips, and warps the tunes with vigor and feeling. He has chops to burn but a delicate touch, too. Also featured are trombonist Gary Valente, trumpeter Lew Soloff, and altoist-flutist Wolfgang Puschnig. A special, surprising guest is violinist Alex Balanescu, whose hip new-music quartet was, at this time (1993), winning notice. The whole band sparkles and lends just the right dosage of swagger and cheek where needed. The cover of Charles Mingus's "Goodbye, Pork Pie Hat" does honor to the tune. The album is, overall, among the Bley big band's finest. --Peter Monaghan

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CD Reviews

Very great big band!
12/25/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Carla Bley has worked with all sorts of ensembles, but she's always been stellar when leading a big band. BIG BAND THEORY is a joy, from the highly amusing tempo shifts in "On The Stages In Cages" to the great reading of Charles Mingus' "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat." Soloists here get their moments in the sun, including longtime Bley mainstay trombonist Gary Valente, who always seems to have a wry tone in his playing which is very engaging. This is one of Carla Bley's best albums from a body of work of which any musician could be proud."
A strong effort from the Carla Bley Big Band
Steward Willons | Illinois | 07/16/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Carla Bley is one of the most consistently amazing jazz composers around and "Big Band Theory" shows just why. While it's not her best or most essential album, it's firmly in the second tier of her work. I think of albums such as "Goes to Church", "Fleur Carnivour", and a couple others as her masterpieces, while albums such as this are close seconds.

Things get off to an energetic start with the lively and unpredictable "On the Stage in Cages", which I would place amongst her absolute finest work. Along the way, we hear amazing solos from her big band including Gary Valente, Wolfgang Puschnig, and Lew Soloff. However, the thing that I love about this and all of Bley's extended compositions is that the solos are integrated into various stages of a larger composition with actual development happening. Puschnig solos over one section, then the piece moves in a different direction and Soloff takes a few "choruses" before moving on to yet another area of the composition for Gary Valente. Here, I'm speaking in general terms. I don't recall if the first selection follows this form exactly, but in general, her pieces are sectional with different solos in the various sections as opposed to the more traditional back-to-back configuration.

"Birds of Paradise" is beautiful, if not quite as engaging as "On the Stage in Cages". It develops along the same lines with thematic material that develops over the course of the work's twenty minute duration.

On "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat", Bley shows off her skills as an arranger and Valente proves once again that he's one of the gutsiest trombonists around. He is featured across the whole song and gets a lot of room to stretch out. His performance is nothing short of incredible. If this review sounds like a rave, it's not - it's just that good.

"Big Band Theory" is essential listening to all Carla Bley fans. It's worth the price for the first and third tracks alone. The rest are just a bonus."