The Grande Dame of Jazz turns 85

Exactly 50 years ago, Carla Bley published her opus magnum, the jazz opera "Escalator Over The Hill". It is still considered one of the most outstanding compositional achievements of jazz. The Guardian even called it "the Sgt Pepper album of the new jazz". It stands out like a monolith in the history of the genre. In fact, there is a lot of jazz history in this life rich in honours: Not yet 30, Carla Bley was co-founder and co-leader of the influential avant-garde formation "Jazz Composer's Orchestra". The musical think tank brought together greats such as Michael Mantler, Roswell Rudd, Archie Shepp, Cecil Taylor, Don Cherry, Sun Ra and Pharoah Sanders. She also played a decisive role in shaping a second large formation, as a composer and later director: the "Liberation Music Orchestra" founded by Charlie Haden, which the taz once smugly described as "the left-wing intervention force of jazz".Bley's chamber music works are also remarkable, culminating in her most recent "Trios" CDs with Steve Swallow and Andy Sheppard - and in two brilliant concerts at Enjoy Jazz. Perhaps Carla Bley's greatest achievement, however, is to have given jazz an incomparable sense of humour. It not only characterises the conversations with her, as we have experienced many times, but also many of her compositions and is both an expression of an anarchic play instinct and a symbol of human kindness and an unshakeable composure. Happy Birthday, Carla Bley!