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Paul Bley

by Ron Sagye La Rue

Stopping Time is pianist,Paul Bley's(with David Lee)autobiography published by Canadian publisher Vehicule Press(vehiculepress.com). Bley takes the reader from his childhood beginings in Montreal to New York across the country to Southern California. Where he created some of the most interesting and in- novative music of the 1950's. He talks about how in Los Angeles he had a six-night-a week job at the Hillcrest Club.

Vibist Dave Pike was added to his trio making it a quartet,to eventually fir- ing him. To hire Don Cherry and Ornette Coleman making it the Paul Bley Quintet! Bley relates the incident when one-time drummer Lennie McBrowne brought bassist Charlie Haden to an auditon wearing no shoes! But he liked his impeccable time. He also recounts the story when the quintet of Cherry, Ornette and Haden began to play the club started to empty! Stopping Time also chronicles Bley's time spent with obscure trumpeter Herbie Spanier pl aying improvised duet suites in Beverly Hills.

The down side of Bley's life is included revealing when he was living on Pepsi- Cola(a soft drink)and how he almost died in a Juarez,Mexico motel. And how he owes his life to Hollywood movie star Lucille Ball. By most accounts Bley is probably looked upon as an avant-garde player. But he tells how his trio backed tenor sax legend Lester Young(there's a great photo on page 41).

He also speaks of his experience on the road with Jackie Mclean,Donald Byrd Doug Watkins and Art Taylor--he hired them! There are so many wonderful stories in this tome of just 173 pages. It also includes a bibliography and selected discography an index included. The writing style is quite relaxed and friendly as if Bley is talking directly to you. Furthermore there are many photographs that show Bley evolving with time and styles just as his music does. For the memorabilia minded there's reproductions of newspaper ads a no-doubt rare poster where he's billed as Paul"Buzzy"Bley! OK! that looks from the 1950's.

In the last few years a number of jazz biographies have been published . Stopping Time Paul Bley and the transformation of jazz is absolutely one of the very best! It covers music of more than 50 years ago, Paul Bley was a part of that change and innovation and tells about it.

published 16.04.2005 2005 jazz news :: home page

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