The Carla Bley Trio headlined the penultimate of the 2016 Bohemia Jazz Fest in Pilsen, Czech Republic, on July 18.
The stage, located at the heart of Pilsen’s Square of the Republic, was surrounded by Gothic and Renaissance buildings. It was there that pianist Bley, bassist Steve Swallow and saxophonist Andy Sheppard played a set of old and new Bley compositions. The first, “Copycat,” a slow-waltzing tune punctuated by an idiosyncratic sense of humor, was briefly introduced by Swallow as being only a few weeks old.
Highlight performances of the night included the gospel-influenced “The Lord is Listening to Ya, Hallelujah!” from the band’s first recorded outing, 1986’s Songs with Legs, in which Sheppard takes center stage with his soaring tenor lines, and the Trios (2013) version of “Vashkar,” which opens with brilliant middle-Eastern modal interplay between Bley and Swallow.
The set ended with the tango-like three-part suite “Andando el Tiempo,” from the band’s latest album of the same name, released earlier this year on ECM. The focused reading reached a high point in its complex third part, “Camino al Volver.” Here, the three musicians each took turns in playing a few notes to define the rhythm and structure of the piece, creating a breathtaking blend of tension and excitement.
The next night, the Bohemia Jazz Fest traveled to Domažlice for its closing date. From July 11-19, the festival created and curated by Czech-American guitarist Rudy Linka traveled to various cities of the Czech Republic drawing a large local, national and international audience to its free concerts and events.
For more information, go to http://www.bohemiajazzfest.cz/en/
(Photograph by David Peltan)