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Paul Bley: Play Blue: Oslo Concert

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Paul Bley’s 1973 album, Open, to Love, set a precedent as both a document of the pianist’s skill in the solo setting and for the rich production that has become an expectation with ECM Records. Despite that artistic success, Bley wouldn’t release another solo album for ECM until 2007, when he returned with Solo in Mondsee. Thankfully, it wasn’t as long of a wait for this third solo piano recital, taken from a performance at 2008’s Oslo Jazz Festival.

Hearing Bley in action, applying his own sense of order to various approaches, still feels electrifying. In Way Down South Suite the blues shows up twice, just long enough for him to twist it around. In the early minutes, he plays a melody in the upper register, giving it a feeling of innocence. Later in the 15-minute piece, he interrupts a different blue line with a dissonant turn, as if to talk himself out of it.

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