Bley played with Charlie Parker on a Canadian TV show in 1952, so it's instructive to hear how he and Greenwich, a guitarist rarely heard playing bebop, approach Bird's "Steeplechase." Bley plays the melody conventionally as Greenwich joins him at the bridge. Sonny solos first (miked acoustically it seems on this track), his melodic creativity mesmerizing, as is Bley's aggressive comping. Bley then takes the lead, soon introducing somewhat reflective rubato lines propelled by urgent left-hand figures. Short and inventive exchanged passages ensue, with Bley at one point cleverly adapting a motif similar to Monk's "Misterioso." A long free-form joint conversation blooms, replete with asides, rejoinders and mutually compatible flights of fancy. Bley treats the theme differently the second time around, toying with the rhythm, unexpectedly crashing out certain notes. Two individualists at the peak of their powers, and highly recommended.
January 16, 2009 · 0 commentsTags: steeplechase
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