Paul Bley

Tears

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An early '80s French release, this album is one of Paul Bley's solo piano masterworks, of which there are really too many to allow much detailed comparison. These tracks were all recorded in the same day, and a special day that must have been considering how "on" the performer is. The repertoire is all originals with the exception being a hip cover of "Music Matador" from the team of Prince Lasha and Sonny Simmons, a reference to Bley's loyalty to an era of jazz when heads began to crack open wide.

Several facets of the Bley style are here, for listeners wanting to get a fix in what might turn into an addiction. The title track is one of several portions that show his great desire to record the slowest music in history, surely a musical voyage in which the destination will remain well on the horizon, if only for the listeners' sake. His bluesy touch, perhaps to forever seem a kind of happy blues to anyone who has read the conclusion of Bley's autobiography, also sneaks its way through the tracks like grains of cous-cous mixing with the stew, while the obviously-named "Ostinato" puts the harmonic meter in standstill and allows Bley room to show his expressive touch, mastery of tonal shadings, and nearly hypnotic rhythmic drive, all in the length of the average radio single. Another highlight is the closing piece, the haunting "For Roy E."

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