Obituaries, Oct. 19, 2023

Carla Bley (born Lovella May Borg ), a prolific and expansive jazz pianist, composer, and bandleader, died on Oct.

Obituaries, Oct. 19, 2023

By Kerry Doole

Carla Bley (born Lovella May Borg ), a prolific and expansive jazz pianist, composer, and bandleader, died on Oct. 17, at age 87. The cause given was complications from brain cancer. 

NPR wrote that "Bley, the pianist behind some of the most beloved compositions in the jazz canon, recorded over two dozen albums between 1966 and 2019. Bley was a force in jazz even before she made her first albums, as her compositions were recorded by notable modernists of the 1960s. Within several years, she became both a recording artist in her own right and an activist for independent musicians, co-founding the group The Jazz Composer's Orchestra (JCO) in 1965 and the nonprofit distributor New Music Distribution Service in 1972, both with her second husband, trumpeter Mike Mantler."


Her first husband, Canadian Paul Bley, was another accomplished pianist and composer and noted jazz bassist Steve Swallow was her third husband and a longtime collaborator. 

Considered one of Carla Bley's crowning accomplishments was the mammoth three-LP set Escalator Over the Hill, co-credited to Bley and Canadian poet Paul Haines, and featuring such illustrious contributors as Charlie Haden, Jack Bruce, Gato Barbieri, John McLaughlin, Don Cherry, and Sheila Jordan. One of Bley's most significant alliances was with Charlie Haden and his Liberation Music Orchestra.

Amongst those expressing sorrow at the news were two Canadian jazz luminaries. On Facebook, composer/big band leader Darcy James Argue posted this tribute: " Got word during today’s recording session that Carla Bley has died at the age of 87. Her music has had such a profound effect on me since I first heard it. I remember the piece, too: In The Mornings Out There on that Verve Story box set…. A singular genius, and a tremendous loss. For those new to Carla’s music, her 1993 album Big Band Theory is one of the finest big band records anyone has ever made."


Also on Facebook, Jane Bunnett posted this: "So sad to hear that Carla Bley has passed away at 87. We are stunned at this loss. Carla was a Hero and a major inspiration to both Larry Cramer and I. A genius composer and arranger and a really beautiful person! My condolences to Steve Swallow and everyone who loved Carla Bley. I treasure the few precious times that I had the opportunity to play with her as well as record a piece of hers on my debut recording in the 80s. Rest Happily, dear Carla."

Read more at NPR,The Guardian and The New York Times

 Michael "Ibo" Cooper, a reggae musician and founding member of Third World, died on Oct. 12, at age 71. 

In a press release, VP Records noted that "from performing with Inner Circle and co-founding Third World alongside Steven ‘Cat’ Coore, to later becoming a full-time teacher, the acclaimed keyboardist, songwriter, and vocalist dedicated his life to music. Over decades, he wielded an untold influence both on his fellow Jamaicans and the international reggae community. From the studio to the stage, Ibo's unique blend of reggae, jazz, funk, and other genres resonated with listeners worldwide. The lyrics within his songs were equally substantial, carrying messages of truth, unity, and the struggles and triumphs of life."


"Near the turn of the century, after over two decades of recording, touring, and performing, he embraced a different approach to guide the next generation by working as a teacher at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston. Christopher Chin, CEO of VP Records, said, "With Ibo's passing, we’ve lost a gifted pioneer of the music and a good friend."


Sources: VP Records, Global Voices

Rudolph Isley, a founding member of famed soul group the Isley Brothers, died on Oct. 11, at the age of 84.

With brothers O’Kelly and Ron, he founded the pioneering soul group The Isley Brothers, whose career has spanned over six decades. Rudolph left the pioneering group in 1989 but had appeared on hits such as Shout, Summer Breeze, and Fight the Power.

As a sextet, the Isley Brothers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.

Read more in this obituary in The Guardian.

Lindsay Duncan

Aysanabee, a guest judge for Your Voice Is Power program

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