Carla Bley / Carla Bley's The Lost Chords

The Lost Chords

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The Lost Chords are Carla Bley (piano), Andy Sheppard (saxophones), Steve Swallow (electric bass), and Billy Drummond (drums). This self-titled album is a document from the quartet's 2003 European tour. The set begins with the three-part suite "3 Blind Mice," a decidedly straight-ahead set comprised of bluesy hard bop and post-bop tropes. Bley and Sheppard solo and play the front line with great rapport; they complement one another well and their exchanges are relaxed and lyrical. The slightly dissonant angularity of "Hip Hop" reflects Bley's sense of humor as well as her affinity for the funky blues of Horace Silver and Bobby Timmons. "Lost Chords," the nearly 17-minute three-part suite that bookends the album at its close, is one of the most beautifully lyrical pieces Bley has ever composed. Its wide reach across ballad, bop, and modal developments is ambitious, and yet it is also seamless. As showcased to great effect here, Swallow's bass playing, while always subtle and unobtrusive, is such a force in this band that he becomes its entire spine. The depth of communication here is marvelous, and given the level of comfort these musicians have with one another, that feeling of ease is communicated to the listener as well.

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