CARLA BLEY — Social Studies

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CARLA BLEY - Social Studies cover
2.96 | 4 ratings | 1 review
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Album · 1981

Tracklist

A1 Reactionary Tango (In Three Parts) 12:52
A2 Copyright Royalties 6:41
B1 Utviklingssang 6:30
B2 Valse Sinistre 4:54
B3 Floater 5:55
B4 Walking Batteriewoman 4:24

Total Time: 41:29

Line-up/Musicians

Bass – Steve Swallow
Drums – D. Sharpe
Euphonium – Joe Daley
Organ, Piano, Composed By – Carla Bley
Saxophone [Alto, Tenor] – Carlos Ward
Saxophone [Tenor], Clarinet – Tony Dagradi
Trombone – Gary Valente
Trumpet – Michael Mantler
Tuba – Earl McIntyre

About this release

WATT Works ‎– WATT/ 11 / ECM Records ‎– 2313 111 (Germany)

Recorded September to December 1980, mixed January 1981 at Grog Kill Studio, Willow, New York.

Thanks to snobb for the updates

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Matti P
Carla Bley is American free jazz pianist and composer whose music often contains experimentalism. On Social Studies -- the only Bley album I've listened to -- the composer plays organ and piano and is accompanied by a rhythm section and a wind sextet.

The opener 'Reactionary Tango' (12:52) is the longest track; other five tracks are between 4 and 7 minutes. The dance-like rhythm structure forms the basis, on top of which the trumpet, trombone, saxes and other wind instruments play almost as in a dialogue, with quick, little piano melodies thrown in here and there. This harmlessly playful and mildly humorous composition actually feels a bit too long since the changes along the way aren't very big. Even the soprano sax solo remains rather restricted. But towards the end it begins to feel more interesting as the organ makes me think of the early 70's Soft Machine. Indeed to me this music seems closer in spirit to the early British jazz/fusion with some continental flavour, than to American jazz. 'Copyright Royalties' is also temperate and easy-going.

'Utviklingssang' is a moody piece in a slow tempo. Alto sax has the biggest role in it. 'Valse Sinistre' is another composition based on a dance rhythm, and it's not exactly sinister. 'Floater' starts cautiously in a "where do we go from here?" manner but gets slightly livelier. Bass is great here. The final piece 'Walking Batteriewoman' has the fastest and edgiest melodies. Tenor sax has references to be-bop, I guess.

This album is happily less experimental or difficult than I was prepared to hear, but on the other hand it's also a bit duller than I expected. I like the overall feel: temperate, intelligent, witty, gentlemanly and mildly playful and unpredictable. However, the brass-oriented arrangement is surely not up to my jazz taste.

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