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.
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.
Praising a previous incarnation of Steve Swallows quintet, The Times of London described the band as near a perfect display of small-group jazz robust yet exquisitely poised.
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.
The second night of the 1989 reunion in New York of the 1961-1962 Jimmy Giuffre 3 with pianist Paul Bley and (now electric) bassist Steve Swallow in some ways eclipses the first. The fact that there is more integration between the trio members as a whole than on the first evening is certainly one place to start. At the very beginning, "Sensing" – with Giuffre on soprano and Bley playing bass notes in the lowest register as Swallow enters and takes over the role and Bley moves to the middle – is a stunner, though it is only four minutes and 13 seconds long.
The venerable Universal Music label has re-released the two Life of a Trio nights – originally issued in the early '90s on CD by France's Owl label – that featured the 1989 reunion of the 1961-1962 Jimmy Giuffre 3 of Giuffre on reeds, pianist Paul Bley, and bassist Steve Swallow. The first evening, Saturday, December 16, began with a solo clarinet improvisation by Giuffre, followed by "Black Ivory," a duet between Giuffre and Bley, and then "Owl Eyes," by solo Bley, with the tension heating up as Bley duets with Swallow on "Endless Melody," until they come together all too briefly (5:22) for "Turns."