Carla Bley Big Band – Appearing Nightly – ECM WATT 33, 68:40 [Release date: Sept. 9, 08] *****:

(Carl Gardner/Lew Soloff/Giampaolo Casti/Forian Esch – trumpets; Beppe Calamorsa/Gary Valente/Gig Grata/Richard Henry – trombones; Roger Jannotta – soprano & alto sax & flute; Wolfgang Puschinig – alto sax & flute; Andy Sheppard, tenor sax; Julian Arguelles – baritone sax; Carla Bley – piano & conductor; Karin Mantler – organ; Steve Sawllow – bass; Billy Drummond – drums)

Recorded live at The New Morning in Paris in 2006, the original tunes Carla penned for this album were inspired by the atmosphere of the 1950s New York City nightclubs where she worked as a cigarette girl.  She included some memories of her first and only job as a lounge pianist – in a club in Monterey, California, when she was 17.  She next same up with a two-bar quote from a Gershwin song, which she named Someone to Watch. Then she worked over an old Ray Noble Band tune that become the track “I Hadn’t Anyone Till You.”  During the tune Awful Coffee, she quotes six different songs with food references, and reveals that later she wished she had thought of Mary Had a Little Lamb.

Carla Bley approaches her writing for her band in a similar fashion to that used by Duke Ellington – she shapes the harmonic sensibilities and performing skills to the unique talents of each of the various musician members of the band. An important track on the disc is Appearing Nightly... – a Monterey Jazz Festival Commission. She truly has a unique approach to big band arranging – right up there with Maria Schreiber.

1. Greasy Gravy
2. Awful Coffee
3. Appearing Nightly at the Black Orchid
4. Someone to Watch
5. I Hadn’t Anyone ‘Till You

– John Henry