To say no one sounded like him would be the ultimate compliment for the Canadian-born keyboardist. He always strived to create unique jazz music.
His ECM records publicist Tina Pelikan confirmed his death saying he passed from natural causes at his winter home in Stuart, Fla.
Having played with the big guys including Ornette Coleman, Gary Peakcock, Chet Baker, Don Cherry, Charlie Haden and Sonny Rollins just to name a few he proved he deserved this elite company many times.
Though Jazz musician are ingrained with this certain software to challenge the status quo Bley could evoke incredibly strong emotions from his audience with his improvisational moodier side that inspired another piano great, Keith Jarrett.
Like Miles Davis, Bley was always excited to introduce new musicians including guitarist Pat Metheny and legendary bassist Jaco Pastorius.
Bley was born in Montreal on Nov. 10 1932. He played violin at five but things took off two years later after discovering the piano. He studied at Juilliard in New York in 1950 and just three years later released his debut album “Introducing Paul Bley” which was produced by Charlie Mingus.
In the fifties he married pianist and composer Karen Borg who we now know as Carla Bley. Paul would go on to perform many of her songs.
His early use of Moog synthesizers shook up the jazz world but he loved the attention and the tearing down of walls in the genre.
Bley was featured on over 100 albums and in 2008, he was named a member of the Order of Canada. – by John Beaudin