Carla Bley

Carla Bley (née Borg, born May 11, 1936 in Oakland, California) is an American jazz musician: composer, arranger, bandleader, pianist and organist.


Carla Borg's parents were both musicians, her father a piano teacher and organist. They even started at the age of 4 years, to sing in the church, piano and organ playing. In 1957 she married the jazz pianist Paul Bley ( whom she called "cigarette girl" at Birdland met ), who encouraged her to compose for him. Soon they played in New York with Charles Moffett senior and Pharoah Sanders. From 1964, the Commission initiated, Michael Mantler The Jazz Composer's Orchestra. In 1965 she had a quintet with Mantler and Steve Lacy. In 1966 she went with Peter Brötzmann Peter Kowald and on tour. According to the project Escalator over the Hill from 1967 to 1971 and working with Charlie Haden Liberation Music Orchestra in (from 1969), she headed from 1976 mainly his own bands.

She married in 1967 her band member Michael Mantler; her daughter Karen Mantler was jazz organist. Since the return to Europe Mantler (1991 ) Carla Bley lives with her ​​long-time band member Steve Swallow. He is also musically important partner on electric bass for them. Furthermore, typical of their bands are musicians such as the distinctive earthy playing trombonist Gary Valente, the jazz hornist Vincent Chancey or daughter Karen Mantler.

2006/2007 she was artist in residence at the Philharmonie Essen. In 2008, she performed with her ​​trio of Steve Swallow and Andy Sheppard live at New York's Birdland at ( Songs with Legs ). In 2009 she was with the German Jazz Trophy 2012 awarded an honorary doctorate from the Université de Toulouse II -Le Mirail.


Carla Bley was noticeable from around the mid -1960s as a witty and innovative jazz composer; first she wrote for Paul Bley Trio, then for George Russell, Jimmy Giuffre and Art Farmer. In 1964 she founded with Mike Mantler The Jazz Composer's Orchestra ( JCO ). In 1967 she composed for Gary Burton, the acclaimed A Genuine Tong Funeral. After three years of recording work was published in 1971 one of the few jazz opera: the music composed by her Escalator over the Hill (1973 won the French Grand Prix du Disque ).

She has published a number of his own jazz albums on their own label, founded by Michael Mantler WATT, whose plates are distributed via ECM. Your active especially in the 1970/80er years Carla Bley band plays original concert big band Jazz, well within the contemporary reflected successor of Duke Ellington and Gil Evans. Part of this band, they also played the album Nick Mason's Fictitious Sports with their own compositions.

As an arranger she worked since 1969 largely to Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra, with the Not In Our Name again brought out a designed as a protest against the U.S. political album in 2005.

An interesting characterization of their music published on the occasion of her 70th birthday in the FAZ:

" Carla Bley is the most monstrous chameleon who knows the Jazz. And a huge irritation. At face value, one can take anything she says, does, makes or joins together compositionally. [ ... ] You have to think along with the unorthodox daughter of a church musician from Oakland, has its irony withstand and how she breaks conventions by adapting apparently, the music must not be understood as pure glass bead game, finally, to give her the water and possibly of to become enlightened you. "

Discography (selection)

Film scores