Paul Bley: Batterie




Paul Bley (piano)


Barrage (ESP 1008)

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Paul Bley (piano),

Dewey Johnson (trumpet), Marshall Allen (alto sax), Eddie Gomez (bass), Milford Graves (percussion)


Composed by Carla Bley


Recorded: New York, October 15, 1964


Rating: 91/100 (learn more)

Carla Bley has had a career-long flair for writing theatrical pieces that sometimes sound like they should accompany silent movies. Her compositions can project absurdity and somberness, often in the same song, whether rendered by a full orchestra or a small group.

Even in a 5-piece outfit playing unrestrained jazz, this quality shines through, as it does for "Batterie." The frantic theme is not dissimilar to one Ornette Coleman used years later for his "Happy House," and once the formalities are done, listeners are assaulted with a fierce, one-two punch from the Sun Ra Arkestra's Allen and Johnson. The leader responds with some oddly rolled chords and fragments in pensive counterpoint to the savage horns. Meanwhile, Graves is a one-man wrecking crew on his kit, doing the work of two drummers at twice the speed. Gomez does well just to keep up with everyone else.

Who says there's no drama in free jazz? There's plenty to be found in "Batterie."

Reviewer: S. Victor Aaron

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