Why aren't there more recordings like Fly Away Little Bird? Perhaps it's because there aren't more musicians of this stature. The studio reunion of the legendarily experimental Jimmy Giuffre 3 in 1992 was reissued in 2002 on the French Sunnyside label and is a radical departure from anything the trio had done in the past. These studio apparitions of the band are their most seamlessly accessible while being wildly exploratory. In addition to the consummate improvisations and compositions by Giuffre (title track, a redone "Tumbleweed"), the tender meditations by Steve Swallow ("Fits" and "Starts"), and the bottom-register contrapuntal improves by Paul Bley ("Qualude"), this is a trio recording that uses standards such as "Lover Man," a radically and gorgeously reworked "I Can't Get Started," "Sweet and Lovely," and "All the Things You Are" to state hidden textural possibilities inside chromatic harmony. There is never the notion of restraint in the slow, easy, and proactive way these compositions are approached.
For over 20 years, the trio of pianist Carla Bley, bassist Steve Swallow, and saxophonist Andy Sheppard have shared each other's creative company. The group's 2016 album, Andando el Tiempo, is a delicately passionate, classically influenced set. A follow-up to 2013's equally compelling Trios, Andando el Tiempo is, surprisingly, only the third album from the group after their initial live 1995 album Songs with Legs. Whereas on Trios they delved into various Bley compositions from throughout her career, on Andando el Tiempo they focus on several more recently penned works. "Naked Bridges/Diving Bridges" brings to mind the impressionism of composer Claude Debussy.
Andando el Tiempo features new music of wide emotional compass by Carla Bley, and underlines her originality and resourcefulness as a jazz composer. “Saints Alive!” sets up animated conversations between the participants with striking statements from Steve Swallow’s bass guitar and Andy Sheppard’s soprano sax. The stately “Naked Bridges/Diving Brides” draws inspiration from Mendelssohn and the poetry of Paul Haines. And the powerful three part title composition – which addresses the trials and tribulations of recovery from addiction - moves through sorrow to hopefulness and joy.
Carla Bley, Andy Sheppard and Steve Swallow revisit classic Bley compositions on an exceptional album recorded in Lugano last year by Manfred Eicher. Included here are spirited new versions of Utviklingssang and Vashkar, and the suites Les Trois Lagons, Wildlife and The Girl Who Cried Champagne. Carlas robust tunes are vividly conveyed, all members solo compellingly, and the trio has never sounded better.