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Paul Bley (1932-2016)

Tuesday, 05 January 2016 12:13

Renowned Canadian pianist Paul Bley has passed away at the age of 83.

"I’m deeply saddened to tell you that my father passed yesterday [Monday]. Below is our official statement. He was at home and very comfortable with family at his side," announced his daughter Vanessa Bley.

The Montreal musician was born in 1932, and began learning the violin at the age of five, and at seven, he went onto piano. 

By 17, he took over for Oscar Peterson at the Alberta Lounge in Montreal. According to his biography, "Bley founded the Montreal Jazz Workshop and brought Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins, Brew Moore and Alan Eager to Montreal in order to perform with them."

The 50s saw Bley in New York and California with Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry, Charlie Haden, Billy Higgens, Bobby Hutchinson, Scotty LaFaro, Lawrence Marable, and Dave Pike. He also became the president of the Associated Jazz Societies of New York, leading him to Charlie Mingus - where he was hired to conduct his ensemble, and later,  Mingus would record Bley's debut album.

By the early 70s, Bley made his first solo piano recording for ECM records.

Since then, he's released over 100 albums. Some of the artists he's recorded with include: Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins, Jaco Pastorius, Pat Metheny, Gary Burton, Marion Brown, Jane Bunnet, and Bill Evans.

"Bley has the wonderful ability to allow his music to move where it will.  The effect is one of total freshness, of music that has never been heard before and never will be heard again,' said Jon Balleras, Down Beat.

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