Dobbin's Den



Jazz pianist PAUL BLEY celebrates his seventieth birthday. Born in Montreal on November 10, 1932, he is possibly the most influential musician Canada ever produced--certainly its most influential jazz musician. After studies at McGill, he moved into the Alberta Lounge following Oscar Peterson's departure. He was sixteen. It's was then off to New York for composition and conducting studies at the Julliard School of Music and jamming with the likes of Charlie Parker. Early in his career he recorded a pair of trio sessions, one with Oscar Pettiford and Kenny Clarke and another with Charles Mingus and Art Blakey. After working with Chet Baker and Mingus (as both a pianist and conductor) and leading his own groups in California--groups that included the then little known Charlie Haden, Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry--he finally settled in the U.S. in 1959. After important affiliations with groups led by musicians like Don Ellis, Sonny Rollins, George Russell and Jimmy Giuffre, Bley began leading his own groups, mostly trios, which have included John Gilmore, Steve Swallow, Gary Peacock, Barry Altschul and Pete LaRoca Sims. His 1962 recording Footloose has been a great influence on pianists including Keith Jarrett and Steve Amirault. His recording career has been of the prolific variety, causing N.Y. pianist Frank Kimbrough to say he's slowly going bankrupt buying Bley CDs. Bley now lives in Cherry Valley, N.Y., a small town near Albany, with his wife, visual artist Carol Goss and their two daughters His autobiography, Stopping Time: Paul Bley and the Transformation of Jazz was published in 1999 by Montreal-based Vehicule Press.

© Len Dobbin 2002