Pianist Paul Bley was touring Scandinavia with a quartet made up of longtime associate Gary Peacock on bass and two brilliant British musicians, drummer Tony Oxley and John Surman on baritone saxophone and bass clarinet, when they made this Oslo recording in 1991. Rather than a conventionally organized quartet session, the CD consists of seven largely improvised solos, three duets, and two tracks–the collectively improvised "Interface" and Surman's "Article Four"–with the full quartet. Even more unusual is the frequent emphasis on bass frequencies and slow, even solemn, tempos. Only extraordinary musicians could keep such a format interesting, and these four do, exploring room resonance with almost ceremonial levels of concentration.
Recorded live at the Tokyo Dome in Japan, November 21st, 2013, aired on the Japanese SkyPerfectTV! Network on saturday, March 22, 2014.
The combination of spoken words and musical improvisations may bring up associations with the Beat poets and some of their free jazz experiments, but that is far from the effect Paul Griffiths and Frances-Marie Uitti achieve in There Is Still Time, their 2004 release in ECM's New Series. These scenes for speaking voice and cello have a bleak existential quality that moves them into a different direction and are perhaps more like the spare monologs of Samuel Beckett than anything else. Griffiths' haltingly paced recitations of his austere, introspective texts is by turns fragile, morose, excited, and agonized – not exactly a theatrical performance, but certainly dramatic in its intensity and haunting in its suggestiveness.