Based on his recordings, I transcribed his versions of Annette Peacock's "Cartoon" and "Touching", and learned to play Carla Bley's "Vashkar", "Syndrome", and "Jesus Maria", as well as Paul's solo on "When Will The Blues Leave" (Footloose! 1962). He had and continues to have a huge influence on my playing.
Yet with all this early influence, I'm a little embarrassed to admit that it was just last year that I learned Bley had recorded briefly with Sonny Rollins. In my years of listening to him and trying to play like him, I had never heard his solo on "All The Things You Are" (Sonny Meets Hawk). Thanks to Kevin Sun for sharing his transcription of this remarkable solo.
A little bit later, I found Together At Newport, a quasi-legitimate European release that documents a live performance with the same quintet (with Henry Grimes playing bass instead of Bob Cranshaw). The live set contains a version of "All The Things You Are" with a solo by Paul Bley that is at least as mind-bending as the studio version. In between my other obligations, I finished the right hand in March, and after quite a bit of close listening I was able to figure out most of Bley's left hand. There are a few anomalies which bear mentioning.
- The recording fidelity is poor, and Bley in this period had a tendency to "feather" single notes in the left hand. Needless to say, the left hand took more than a little bit of extrapolation and should be played delicately, rather than as usual "comping".
- Bley is able to sustain a few pitches at once, in a way that is easiest to explain as left-hand intervention or through use of the sostenuto pedal.
- To complicate everything most beautifully, Grimes' walking lines are equally angular, so that even when Bley is playing "in the chord"... it becomes masked.
Rest in Peace, Paul. You've made the world a more confusing and wonderful place.
Download PDF (Concert pitch) UPDATED 9/23
So, in keeping with the ethos this blog has had from the very beginning... not to present objective descriptions of "what was played", but interpret what was done in the most rational way, and leaving the work open to peer review ... look this over yourselves and leave your comments below.
I can make Bb and Eb versions if there's any interest, just leave a comment.