Carla Bley and Her Remarkable Big Band: Awful Coffee


Awful Coffee


Carla Bley and Her Remarkable Big Band


Appearing Nightly (Watt/33)

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Carla Bley (piano),

Earl Gardner, Lew Soloff, Giampaolo Casati, Florian Esch (trumpets), Beppe Calamosca, Gary Valente, Gigi Grata, Richard Henry (trombones), Roger Janotta (alto & soprano saxes, flute), Wolfgang Puschnig (alto sax, flute), Andy Sheppard, Christophe Panzani (tenor saxes), Julian Argüelles (baritone sax), Karen Mantler (organ), Steve Swallow (bass), Billy Drummond (drums)


Composed & conducted by Carla Bley


Recorded: Paris, July 17-18, 2006


Rating: 91/100 (learn more)

Carla Bley evokes the Swing Era on this up-tempo jump tune, which features wonderful, idiomatically incorrect solos by baritone saxophonist Julian Arguelles and a tenor saxophonist—either Andy Sheppard or Christophe Panzani (probably the former, though credit is not provided in the booklet). Originally commissioned by Orchestra Jazz della Sardegna, this is the kind of large-scale project at which Bley has historically excelled when given the resources. The opening head is simple and even a bit slight; things heat up during the solos, which are immeasurably enhanced by Bley's ever-varying background figures. Trumpeter Lew Soloff ties things up with a fiery if conventional solo, leading back to a recap of the opening riff. Spirited, well-crafted, imaginative and straightforward fun—few contemporary jazz composers reanimate the musty big band format as well as Carla Bley.

Reviewer: Chris Kelsey

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