Paul Bley: Mondsee Variation I


Mondsee Variations I


Paul Bley (piano)


Solo in Mondsee (ECM 1786)

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Paul Bley (piano).

Composed by Paul Bley


Recorded: Mondsee, Austria, April 2001


Rating: 93/100 (learn more)

Paul Bley hasn't released a solo piano recording on ECM in 35 years, and many of his current fans may not even remember his captivating Open to Love album from 1972. Bley was on the cusp of 40 back then, and his upstart label, ECM, barely three years old. But that recording was an important statement at a time when jazz piano was in a state of flux and ferment -- and revealed how a deep musical mind could reconcile the opposed demands of freedom and structure, tonality and dissonance. Solo in Mondsee is a more ruminative, lyrical work, less polemical in its outlook than Open to Love, but equally brilliant in conception. Bley's loose phrasing and translucent tone control are his trademark virtues, and both are well displayed in this rubato meditation. Bley may have made his name as an avant garde pushing the frontiers of jazz into the next new thing, but this pristine performance is the confident statement of a master who doesn't need to prove anything, who simply creates houses of sound for his own (and our) delight. Highly recommended.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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