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Carla Bley : The Lost Chords Find Paolo Fresu

At first the affiliation appears counterintuitive. Carla Bley is a fiercely quirky, cerebral pianist/composer/arranger whose wit is pervasive and sandpaper-dry, and whose ambiguous lyricism recoils from the sentimental. Paolo Fresu plays trumpet with aching, heart-on-sleeve romanticism.

It not only works, it is the best album in years from each of them. The fact that Fresu fits seamlessly into Bley’s band the Lost Chords (Andy Sheppard on reeds, Steve Swallow on bass, Billy Drummond on drums) proves that he is an unusually brainy sensualist. And the purity and warmth and soulfulness of his sound make Bley’s lyricism less ambiguous.

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