Carla Bley / Steve Swallow

Are We There Yet?

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Carla Bley and Steve Swallow's third outing as a duo captures them live on their 1998 European tour sounding fabulous. Three of the seven tunes are by Bley: "Major," an infectious triadic shell game; "King Korn," a whimsical run through rhythm changes in the keys of E flat and C; and "Musique Mecanique," an ambitious three-part suite adapted from Bley's 1978 album of the same name. Three other compositions are by Swallow: "A Dog's Life," a Ray Charles-style tune in a slow 6/8; "Satie for Two," an affecting tribute to the minimalist composer; and "Playing With Water," a bossa nova previously performed by Swallow's 1991 sextet. The only non-original of the set is Kurt Weill's ballad "Lost in the Stars," which Bley and Swallow play beautifully.

Bley's piano is remarkably versatile and passionate, and Swallow's signature electric bass sound tickles the senses, especially during the Weill song where one moment he makes the room vibrate with low notes, and the next reaches the stratosphere of his range with singing melodies.

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