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In a recent New York Times interview, Carla Bley revealed that back in the late 1950s, when she began to write music, her psychiatrist had ‘suggested electroshock treatment to get rid of this feeling that I was a composer’. (A few years earlier, Bud Powell was forcibly given ECT for similar ‘delusions of grandeur’.) Thankfully Bley declined the advice and became a celebrated jazz composer, arranger and bandleader, known particularly for her early jazz-rock opera Escalator over the Hill and her work with Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra. In recent years she’s focused more on smaller groups, and Andando el Tiempo, released to mark her 80th birthday last May, is her second trio album for ECM with longtime associates Steve Swallow and Andy Sheppard.

Unlike the trio’s previous disc, Andando el Tiempo comprises all new Bley compositions. The title piece is a three-part suite which, says Bley, represents ‘stages of recovery from addiction’: the trap of dependency (‘Sin Fin’) and the grief this causes (‘Potación de Guaya’), beautifully evoked by Sheppard’s keening soprano, leading to eventual recovery (‘Camino al Volver’), where the trio’s interlocking rhythmic drive signals fresh hope and purpose.

‘Saints Alive!’ includes lovely, intricate exchanges between Bley and Swallow, who plays electric bass with the delicacy and precision of a classical guitarist, while ‘Naked Bridges / Diving Brides’ is Bley’s wedding gift to the newly married Sheppard, its buoyant lyricism embracing allusions to Mendelssohn’s Wedding March and some delightful solos. Throughout, Bley plays exemplary composer’s piano; never showy or unduly virtuosic, she’s sharp and succinct, subtly guiding the trio’s interpretations of her scores.

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Piano International, 2016 - ©Rhinegold Publishing