NOW LISTEN HEAR: Introducing Curt Bley
Our new music columnist at Escape Into Life is Curt Bley (rhymes with “sky”). Here’s what he’ll be writing about, so listen up! –Ed.
My life in music has been more about questions than answers, since it seems like most answers bring up more questions. To me, the most engaging questions have begun with who, why, and how.
“Who played/wrote that?” This question signals either an artist I need to know more about or someone to be avoided. The question is certainly a reflection of the limits of my own taste. “How can I do that?” This is a music science question, and may refer to how I can use an interesting passage or technique in the music I play. “Why did they [use clarinet for melody there?] [put the focus on that particular note?] [or any of ten million other questions]?”
These are my favorite questions, as they define how an artist is trying to convey a specific idea. They make me review my own choices in presentation, and open up countless possibilities.
Consciously or not, I try to figure something out every day. My entries here will be a series of answers to questions, and questions to those answers.
I will be writing about what I hear as a musician and how that relates to what you and I hear as listeners.
I will be writing about the difference between listening to music and understanding it.
I will be writing about the science of music.
I will be writing about the history of music and some of its important figures.
I will be writing about what’s the matter with kids these days, and how great they are.
I will be writing about stuff I know about, and stuff that baffles me.
I will be writing about what great taste you have in music. No, I’m not mocking you. I’m dead serious!
I’ll be writing about music as a team sport.
I’ll be writing about music as communication and music as art.
I’ll be writing about some people that broadened and refined my view of music.
I’ll be writing about careers in the music business (“You call this a BUSINESS?”).
I’ll be using a lot of metaphors having to do with food and architecture.
I promise to meander. In my musical mind 2+2 does not always equal 4, there is an exception to every rule, and eight days a week is not enough to show I care.
Curt Bley found his ultimate purpose in life when he saw the Beatles’ second appearance on the Ed Sullivan show. He has been playing bass since age 10 and professionally since age 14, because things were different in the era of Three Television Stations. His playing has been heard with a wide range of artists from The Fifth Dimension to Dweezil Zappa. A mostly self-taught musician, Mr. Bley is glad that his educated colleagues agree with his musical theories 95 percent of the time. He has been a mainstay on the Chicago music scene for 35 years and swears he is not done yet.
Biography photo by Craig Williams