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January 15, 1980 - Image 7

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1980-01-15

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The Michigan Daily-Tuesday, January 15, 1980-Page 7
Bley provides casual brilliance

By ROBERT LAMBERT
imges of a free-form marionette
g across the stage, leading the
nd with visual instructions and
Iidance, are what comes to mind
hen reflecting on the performance of
e Carla Bley Band. Ms. Bley was that
ind-bldwn puppet, at least visually,
nd the sounds that emanated from the
n-piece band aurally projected that
ame image. Two entities, then, subtly
iixing in and out, were the stars of
at rday night's show at the Power
.r.
At one side of the balance is Carla
ley, the arranger and composer. Her
riting hasn't changed that much in the
ist ten years, but it has always shown
certain quality which indelibly stam-
s it as her own. Certainly arranging is

cessor to the Howard .Johnson/Bobs
Stewart chair, Earl McIntyre soloed on
tuba over a great chordal line by Bley.
The next piece, untitled and unrecorded
by the band, may have been the most
soulful, smooth selection of the evening.
It was basically a lullaby with a ballad-
like solo by the exceptional altoist
Carlos Ward. A French horn-piano
dialogue followed his offering, and the
ensemble turned the melody into a silky
ostinato, which could (and should) have
gone on forever. It did, however, set the
stage for a musical parody of
"minimalist" music, specifically
Phillip Glass' ambitious "Einstein on
the Beach."
AS IS THE case with a great
satirical writer, Carla Bley took a shot
at that school from within the

and tragedy within the music. A.
paradoxical feeling hung over the con-
cert as two pieces represented both the
tragic and decadent elements of Bley's
music. The first was the Kurt Weill-
inspired "Musique Mechanique III",
and secondly the encore, during which
the musical marionette finally breaks
all her strings and cries out for under-
standing.
Andre die
Conductor Andre Kostelanetz, who
led a number of symphony orchestras
and had made frequent appearances
with the New York Philharmonic since
1952, died late Sunday. He was 78 and
suffered heart failure as a result of
pneumonia.
Kostelanetz, who was vacationing in
Haiti at the time of his death, swung his
baton in the service of both classical
and pop music. Best known for his lush
orchestrations of light classics add con-
temporary American favorites,
Kostelanetz made guest appearances
with major symphony orchestras in ad-
dition to selling millions of albums
world-wide. No funeral plans were
disclosed.

Nearly one thousand people heard
and saw the music of Carla Bley Satur-
day night. The audience response was
more than favorable, which was a nice
way for Ann Arbor to express its thanks
to the band for playing a one-nighter in
the middle of a lay-off. Those who at-
tended the show will have wonderful
memories, while those who only heard
about the concert will have to catch the
group next time through. Let's hope
there will be a next time.

MINORITY GRADUATE SCHOOL
and
CAREER CONFERENCE
TUESDAY, JANUARY 22, 1980
10 a.m.-5 p.m.
MICHIGAN LEAGUE
For more information attend a preparation session
on January 16 or 17 at
Career Planning and Placement -3200 SAB
from 1:30-3:00 P.M.
(sponsored by Career Planning and Placement,
Of ice of Student Services)

,.

(Atec%
J P ". es PI
'CS Goe
~~C- ee.
*AQe

Join
the
Arts
Page

Composer/arranger/bandleader Carla We~y in the middle of what she does
best-leading a band.

her strongest accomplishment, as was
obvious during the performance. The
way the trombones melted with the
haunting organ work of- the two
keyboardists, Ms. Bley and the young
Arturo Ofero, was brilliant, while the
th sound of the French horn often
tNided the perfect backdrop for an
alto or tenor solo.
ON THE OTHER hand is the band
w, a cohesive, well-disciplined unit.
en though the appearance seems to
be that of ten musicians just having fun
at what they do best, it becomes ob-
vious that many hours of concentration
go into each performance. As ex-
Modern Lover's drummer D. Sharp
summed it up, "There's no comparison.
The musicianship of this band .. . it's
on a: different level (from that of any
other band)." Carla Bley, the pianist, is
rlooked in that capacity much the
e as Duke Ellington generally was.
The parallels are there, however, Bley
has the same way of "playing the or-
chestra" as Ellington did.
"1 Can't Get My Motor to Start" ser-
ved as a nice introduction to the first
set. A funky, slithery piece that really
swings, it took the edge off the initial
audience tension. A little nervousness
was in the air, but it quickly subsided
with the second piece, "Floater." The
-tempo number began with a duet
een Bley and bassist Steve
Swallow. His distinct style of chordal
strumming and picking was sur-'
prisingly clear, possibly because the
organ was so brooding and muddled.
After a couple of minutes the wind sec-
tion came in and set the pace for what
proved to be a modern sculpturing of
Bley's pulsating "Hotel Overture"
from the monumental work,
"Escalator Over the Hill."
soon became apparent that the
most important aspects of the music
were harmony and rhythm. The
melodies were, as they have always
been with Ms. Bley, simple, and at
times seemingly frivolous. The catchy
"Wrong Key Donkey" was the next
tune on the program, one designed to
pacify those in the audience a little un-
sure of what to expect. Based on a
series of short stacatto notes from the
reeds, and a punctuating bass line, it
*ved the high level of musicianship
by all members of the group. As suc-

framework and guidelines established
by its originators: in this case, Glass
and his fellow minimalist Steve Reich.
Vocals by D. Sharp insisted that he was
a "mineralist", intent on "lusting after
rust."' The instrumental sections had
all the fire of her earlier compositions,
yet the piece seemed !far {too short.
Bley, the .vocalist, gave the audience a
chance to participate with "Boo To You
Too", a song written for the band's
recent European tour. It was a dance
number, with the band leader out in
front, toying with the audience.
One very nice touch was the
challenge Bley presented the wind sec-
tion while directing them. Her fiery
eyes and emotive hand and body
gestures lent a sense of the exotic to the
concert, which proved to be more effec-
tive than the not-so-subtle lighting. It
was during these displays of active
leadership that one could tell she really
enjoyed listening to her own com-
positions. The smile on Bley's face told
the audience that things were going
well, even though it was the first time
the band had performed in two months.
In fact, this was the one and only stop
on their American tour.
The most exciting song unveiled
Saturday night was "Walking Battery
Woman", the last song before the in-
termission. It started out with a section
of short, punctual notes by the bass and
drums. Tenor player Gary Windo
delivered a neo-boppish solo and then
suddenly said, "We're going to take a
short break and be right back."
THE SECOND set was pronounced a
"fun" set, yet one got the impression
that just as much care and planning
had gone into the second half as the fir-
st. By this time, the band was much
looser and more willing to take chances
with the material, which left a bit more
room for improvisation. There was
more vocal music in the latter half of
the concert, which seems to be the way
Ms: Bley is leaning compositionally. A
piece which sounded as if it might have
been off the "Hapless Child" album by
Michael Mantler followed a dense
rhythmic exercise, to form a collage of
moody tension. The next selection
showcased Bley's visual contribution to
the program, as she effectively danced
from behind the organ to the front of the
stage, portraying the melody with body
movements.
The adjective best describing the
second set was emotion, as evidenced
not only by the intentional "relaxed"
atmosphere, but by the playing around
by the band members (switching in-
struments, etc.), and more importan-
tly, the later portrayals of decadence

ANN ARBO3R
5th Avenue at Liberty St. 761-9700
Formerly Fifth Forum Theater I
The $1.50 BARGAIN!
FINAL DAYS!

I.

Bo7
Derek
Thur.. Fri. 5:30 7:40. 9:50
Thur., Fri. $1.50 ti6:00 (or capacity)
Sat.. Sun. 1:00, 3:10, 5:30,7:40, 9:50.
St., Sun. $1.50 tit 1:30 (or capacity)

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An Evening with....
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Friday, February 8 - 8:00pn
The michigan Theater

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