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Carla Bley Trio 'Life Goes On' is exquisite in its minimalist approach / AUDIOPHILE AUDITION

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Life Goes On is another insightful album with Sheppard and Swallow (their fourth). Represented in three "micro-suites",l the album is exquisite in its minimalist approach. The vibrant trio chemistry executes a connective, lyrical symmetry. Some A opens with the 4-part title opus. The first section ("Life Goes On") begins with a slow left-hand blues vamp by Bley that is quickly joined by bass and tenor saxophone. There is an intrinsic whimsy to this melancholy, as bassist Steve Swallow plays his solo like a guitar. When Sheppard enters, he plays in unison. Then the vibrato-infused run (mostly backed by Swallow) flows with peaceful elegance. When the trio unite, they glow with adroit dynamics. The second movement ("On") has some classical undertones. It feels dark, but is framed in a lilting resonance. Bley shines on a sparse, haunting solo with an emphasis on notation The depth of feeling is palpable. Sheppard and Swallow also distill the tactile suppleness in their instrumentation. As the suite progresses ("And On"/"And Then One Day"), the energy increases with a transition to 3/4 time signature and  restrained intensity. The addition of soprano saxophone expands the jazz/blues motifs and captures a straight ahead vibe. Occasional insertion of a dissonant note and key changes are noteworthy. Bley has a glowing piano run that concludes in a hushed ending. 

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