Carla Bley


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Sextet Review

by Richard S. Ginell

Bley continued to make mostly mellow, untroubled music for satisfied, sensible ECM shoppers on this 1987 release, keeping any larger or quirkier ambitions under wraps in the hope perhaps of attracting a wider audience. Here Bley pares down the numbers of her forces to six -- herself on organ, Hiram Bullock (guitar), Larry Willis (piano), Steve Swallow (bass), Victor Lewis (drums) and Don Alias (percussion) -- and the group sails or saunters through a sextet of unambiguously easygoing numbers. The best of the lot has the effervescent title "The Girl Who Cried Champagne," an appealingly cool, percolating Latin groove with near-lounge-style organ from Bley and a mildly incendiary rock solo from Bullock, while "Healing Power" comes close to breaking into a pounding rock beat. The sound bathes in a polished golden ambience very much in keeping with a product distributed under the ECM banner.

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