Paul Bley: Closer




Paul Bley (piano)


Open to Love (ECM 1023)

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Paul Bley (piano).

Composed by Carla Bley


Recorded: Arne Bendiksen Studio, Oslo, Norway September 11, 1972


Rating: 100/100 (learn more)

A masterpiece. Bley starts by creating these crystalline sound structures which hang uncertainly in the air and gradually fade. Some might say that he's using a lot of space and silence, but it seems more precise to say that he's playing with duration and decay. Later in the track, a number of unexpected and beautiful things happen: a singing baritone melody emerges in the left hand; a shimmeringly watery interlude follows; then the rhythm slowly grows more insistent and is punctuated by some Henry Cowell-esque extended piano techniques; next, the bottom drops out and there is a disorienting passage where his left and right hands search for one another in the upper register; finally, the questioning melody from the beginning returns. To me, this is alchemy: improvisational solo piano music distilled to an essence.

Reviewer: Aaron Parks

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