Wednesday, June 24, 2015

MICHAEL MANTLER / CARLA BLEY – 13 and 3/4 (LP-1975)

Label: WATT Works – WATT/3, Virgin ‎– WATT/3
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: UK / Released: 1975
Style: Contemporary Jazz, Free Jazz
Recorded August 1975, Grog Kill Studio, NY.
Mixed September 1975, Scorpio Sound, London.
Design [Album] – Paul McDonough
Engineer – Dennis Weinreich
Engineer [Assistant] – John Hunt
Photography By – Li Tjiong
Producer – Carla Bley, Michael Mantler

A – 13 (for Piano and Two Orchestras) .............................................................. 22:00
Conductor, Written-By – Michael Mantler
Alto Saxophone – Buddy Pearson, Don Davis
Alto Saxophone, Clarinet – Ken Adams
Baritone Saxophone – Charles Davis, Hamiet Bluiett
Baritone Saxophone, Bassoon – Ken McIntyre
Bass – Bill Rich, Dave Moore, Helen Newcombe, Peter Warren
Bass Clarinet – George Barrow
Bassoon – Gail Hightower, Karl Hampton Porter
Cello – Clare Maher, Hank Roberts, Judith Martin, Judy Dolce
Flute – Hal Archer, Patrice Fisher, Paul Moen
Flute, Soprano Saxophone – Nicholas Pike
French Horn – Greg Williams, John Clark, Peter Gordon, Bill Warnick
Oboe – Kathy Karlsen, Mike Lewis, Waldemar Bhosys
Piano – Carla Bley
Soprano Saxophone, Bass Clarinet – Courtenay Wynter
Soprano Saxophone, Clarinet – Jim Odgren
Tenor Saxophone – Lou Marini, Richard Peck
Tenor Saxophone, Clarinet – Collin Tilton
Trombone – Gary Brocks, Michael Gibbs, Rex Shrout
Trombone [Bass] – Earl McIntyre
Trumpet – Greg Bobulinski, John Eckert, Lauren Draper, Leonard Goines
Tuba – Bob Stewart, Jack Jeffers
Viola – Al Visscher, Deena Leff, Drusilla Tesch, Mona Hector, Virginia Izzo
Violin – Alice Stern, Betty MacDonald, Brian Conklin, Laurie Schaller, Lila Baker, Michael Levine, Noreen Davis, Oskana Lenec

B – 3/4 (for Piano and Orchestra) ................................................................... 23:45
Soloist, Piano, Conductor, Written-By – Carla Bley
Bass – Peter Warren
Bassoon – Frank Nizzari
Cello – Clare Maher, Hank Roberts
Clarinet – Collin Tilton
Flute [Alto] – Paul Moen
French Horn – John Clark
Harp – Patrice Fisher
Marimba, Vibraphone, Bells [Orchestra Bells], Percussion [Miscellaneous] – David Samuels
Oboe – Roger Janotta
Piano – Ursula Oppens
Trombone – Michael Gibbs
Trumpet – Michael Mantler
Tuba – Bob Stewart
Viola – Michael Levine, Mona Hector
Violin – Betty MacDonald, Kathy Seplow

WATT records was the collaborative label established by composers Bley and Mantler to exclusively present their own music. And just as well, as even in the “golden age” that this was recorded in (1975) you can’t imagine too many record labels saying, “yeah, ok…why not?” to this music. This is a seriously dark and disturbing orchestral/free jazz/minimalist/cacophonous hell fire of an album...

This album paired the then husband-and-wife team of Michael Mantler and Carla Bley, one composition for large orchestra per LP side. Bley's "3/4" for piano and orchestra is a lovely, romantic locomotive of a piece, its clockwork rhythms dancing and chugging along, offering occasional peaks of luxurious, ecstatic release. The piano part, here performed by Bley (played by Keith Jarrett at the piece's premiere), isn't showy or pyrotechnic, blending in at all times with the orchestral writing which is the heart of the composition. "3/4" stands apart from her other work, sharing little in common with the styles evinced on Escalator Over the Hill, for example, and only partially pointing in the direction of the more hermetic offerings of Social Studies. Kurt Weill's presence is felt in the cabaret-ish melodies that surface here and there, but this is still uniquely Bley and, along with Escalator and Tropic Appetites, arguably her finest work. Mantler's "13" (for piano and two orchestras, again with Bley featured) inhabits another universe entirely, an altogether darker and stormier place. It's a magnificent piece, pitting the two orchestras in pitched battle with the piano valiantly struggling to be heard or to make peace -- a losing battle. Over the course of its 22 minutes, the music (much in the style of his writing for the Jazz Composers Orchestra) increases in tonal complexity as well as sheer volume, ending at a decibel level that may leave the listener worried for his/her speakers... it's power and anguish come through with more than enough force and conviction. It's a stirring, difficult work and one of Mantler's shining moments. 13 & 3/4 is very highly recommended if one is lucky enough to come across it.

And everyone looks to be having a very pleasant afternoon in the woods on the back cover, 
so that’s nice.

Listen out loud and enjoy!

If you find it, buy this album!


  1. MICHAEL MANTLER / CARLA BLEY – 13 and 3/4 (LP-1975)
    Vinyl Rip/FLAC+Cover


  2. never knew about it.
    thanks a lot, great work, indeed

  3. Thanks Vitko, great work as usually. This one new to me.

  4. many thanks Vitko; a new (for me) Carla Bley.

  5. Horror atmosphere at 13, man do not you?.. and what only working Carla on their half...?... amazingly! I think, this album has never had its release on CD, and is almost impossible to reach it.
    I have long worked on it to achieve such clean and powerful sound. This is my gift for this month. Enjoy!

  6. I remain mystified that this album has never been reissued as it represents some of each composer’s best work, particularly Carla in my view. Does anyone know if she’s ever done anything similar to ¾? I enjoy this so much more than the campy vaudeville flavored material she’s focused on since.

  7. "Campy"?? Ah, well.... I love Carla Bley, all of her several aspects.

    This is wonderful.

    1. Well, to my ears anyway. It's good that tastes are different, that way there's something for everyone. Salute!

  8. I got the vinyl without a cover for 50p some time! Not many copies out there.

  9. Out of print for a long time, but I've always loved "3/4" by Carla Bley - a beautiful and well thought out piece. Glad to see you are sharing it! Oddly, looks like discogs has some folks selling their copies at reasonable prices.

  10. Here is an extended comment that I left a long time ago "elsewhere" for this album. I added a few pieces of additional information:

    When this was issued on LP, the two sides of the LP were labeled 3/4 side and 13 side respectively, leaving it to your own interpretation which one you'd consider side A (or side 1) and which one side B. It seems though, that over the course of the time 13 by Michael Mantler is considered alphabetically before 3/4 by Carla Bley, and most reference guides that mention WATT 3 list the compositions in this order.

    Michael Mantler's 13 is, in my opinion, a continuation of some sort of his Communication compositions (see the Fontana Release and JCOA 1001-2 among others) that, as far as I know has Communication #11 (with Cecil Taylor on piano) as the last one issued in that series. A Communication #12, featuring Pharoah Sanders, was recorded on April 20 or 27, 1969 as part of the Long Concert performances at Electric Circus, New York, NY (along with Communication #6 and #11), but Communication #12 was never released on vinyl or in digital format (except for the "Preview" on JCOA 1002). In any case, 13 may fit well with these series on a larger orchestral scale. At times I find it challenging to listen through 22 minutes of orchestral onslaught, but others may actually enjoy it on its own merits.

    The score for "13" is available for download as PDF on Mantler's (ECM) website.

    Carla Bley's piece, on the other hand, takes a different approach. As the title suggests, this is in 3/4 time and it is in minor key. Sure, you can hear the composer of Escalator over the Hill in this piece, and we have several playful elements here, but it seems to be a development toward serial music, as Steve Reich, Philip Glass and other worked with in the 70s. There are more clearly defined caesurae/caesuras in 3/4 that divide the piece into what some may consider separate movements.

    Amy C. Beal mentions in her Carla Bley biography [ISBN 0252078187] that Keith Jarrett was the pianist in the premiere performance, and I found another highly interesting website that gives some additional detail about a couple of performances of the piece with Jarrett as pianist:

    March 17, 1974
    Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, New York, NY, USA
    Dennis Russel Davies (director)
    Kenneth K.: "Jarrett was the featured soloist in Carla Bley's '3/4, for Piano and Orchestra' conducted by Dennis Russell Davies. (…) This may be his first encounter with Dennis Russell Davies with whom he would work over the next two decades. Bley's piece required a pianist well above her skill set; not sure exactly how Jarrett was approached but the concert took place on a Sunday afternoon, just two days before his engagement at the Vanguard. Jarrett would reprise this performance that December in Minneapolis, where he performed a series of concerts for quartet and serious compositions, including a piece from 'In the Light'."

    August 24, 1974
    Cabrillo College, Aptos, CA, USA (Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music)
    Paul Motian and Unknown orchestra
    Kenneth K.: "'In The Cave, In the Light' with strings, piano and Paul Motian, percussion. '3/4, for Piano and Orchestra' by Carla Bley – Jarrett soloist."

  11. -Otto-, Thank you very much, you're pointed to a couple of very interesting data, completely new for me.