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Pianist Paul Bley Dies at 83

Uncompromising, influential "pianists' pianist"

Paul Bley
Paul Bley

Paul Bley, an influential, leading-edge pianist for more than seven decades, died Jan. 3, at age 83. Bley passed of natural causes at home in his winter residence in Stuart, Fla., with his family present. Family members and an executive at ECM Records, one of the labels for which Bley recorded, confirmed his death.

In a 2008 JazzTimes review of Bley’s About Time album, writer Thomas Conrad stated, “Paul Bley is a separate category of jazz piano. No one else thinks like him.” Whether performing in his preferred trio format, solo or in other configurations, Bley was praised for maintaining strong lyricism and subtlety even within his freest playing. “After a while, you can only play yourself,” Bley told another JT writer.

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