Didier Boyet / ディディエ・ボワイエ

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Paul Bley, 1932 – 2016

I think that I discovered Paul Bley’s music with his first album recorder for the French label OWL, and as was the case for many other music lovers, it was a shock. I did not know Paul Bley personally very well. I met him a couple of times, once in Tokyo and once some other place. Since he was born in Montreal, in the French speaking part of Canada, and lived there during all of his childhood and his teenage years, he must have spoken French but I don’t remember talking with him in my native language. He was a great talker and liked to play around with words during interviews or during animated discussions with friends.
But it is through his music language, often minimalist, that he really communicated with us.
Some noted that he seemed to constantly renew his style of playing. From be-bop, in 1953 he played with Charlie Parker during a concert in Montreal before recording a few months later with Charles Mingus and Art Blakey, to free-jazz with Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry in a trio formed in 1958, and to highly melodic music often inspired or composed by the women he married or lived with, Carley Bley, Annette Peacock and Carol Goss. Five out of seven pieces of his first solo album recorded for Manfred Eicher ECM label, are the works of Carla Bley and Annette Peacock.
All his life, Paul Bley experimented with, and explored new fields of music, often choosing the trio format as his working tool. At the end of the ‘60s, when electronics became the new fad in town, he was the first to give a live performance on synthesizer and he recorded several albums of synthetized music. He was one of the very first artists to make a music video, produced by Carol Gross.
While collaborating with musicians coming from different background, Paul Bely always came out with a clearer vision of his musical thinking. When he played with other musicians, he never dictated his own view. Because of his deep involvement with the free-jazz movement, he had learned from the start to listen to his fellow performers and to accommodate with his musical vision rather than to impose it. In that regard, his collaboration with Barre Philips and Evan Parker is outstanding.
In a vein similar to that of pianist Thelonious Monk or drummer Paul Motian, Paul Bley indeed always seemed to cut off what he deemed useless in his musical language. Again and again, he stressed the space which separates two consecutive sounds, allowing the last sound to resonate until the very end rather than filling the space that separates it from the next with meaningless notes.
Music, unlike nature, does not abhor emptiness, and this blank, duly annotated on music scores, is thus treated as another element of the music. When Paul Bley played, this void, this absence of sound, or rather, this space of time between two sounds was in reality full of life. It is the time when the listener suddenly realizes that he has entered the world of the musician and that the moments between notes become opportunities to enter the music and travel along. At those moments, the meaning of sound becomes crystal clear.
Paul Bley is forever silent now. But we can still converse with him through his recordings, as for me I shall listen again and again to ‘Ida Lupino’, a Carla Bley composition that Paul first recorded on his album “Open to Love” and let the music talk to me.
Tokyo, January 15 2016
Didier Boyet

ポール・ブレイ 1932-2016
今、ポール・ブレイは永遠(とわ)に沈黙の存在となった。しかし、私たちは彼の録音を通じてなお会話を続けることができる。私はといえばポールが初めてアルバム『オープン、トゥ・ラヴ』に録音したカーラ・ブレイの楽曲<イダ・ルピーノ>に何度も繰り返し耳を傾けることになるだろう。そして、音楽に語りかけてもらおうと思う。(2016年1月15日・東京 ディディエ・ボワイエ)

Didier Boyet / ディディエ・ボワイエ
翻訳家。一時、Tokyo Jazz Actionの名の下にフランスのミュージシャンを招聘。