The sound of this scene is that of Closer, to Love, but like all ECM albums, it is not available on any streaming service. Second-best, then, is Touching – Take 1, the track from Annette (Hat Hut Records) in the Spotify player here. You can listen to it in full with a registered Spotify account, which comes for free.

Paul Bley

Touching – Take 1

FROM ‘MARA, MARIETTA’
Part Five Chapter 16

The beauty of a tone in decay, the grace of a sustained note dying: Cold, stark, spare and expansive, the brutal elegance of the music fills the room as you sit astride me on the rocking chair, your back to my chest, my wick in your wax.

Kazimir Malevich, Four Squares, 1915

Kazimir Malevich, Painterly Realism, 1915

Imbued with silence, stark tones trace a calligraphy of stillness; under the pianistic fingers of Paul Bley, tentativeness and doubt become crystalline.

Stripping the harmonics from the melody, improvising upon a fragment, the pianist reverses the figure and ground of silence and sound.

Kazimir Malevich, Prototype of a New Image, 1928-32

Kazimir Malevich, Suprematism, 1915

Out from the ambient silence Paul Bley draws a melody; in the stark beauty of his elegant searching, every note weighed before it is played, we rock on the beechwood rockers of our aluminum rings.

Tightly pedalled chords and sparse right-hand figures stretch a tightrope between silence and sound: Constantly restoring his shifting balance, the pianist walks the rope.

Kazimir Malevich, Black Rectangle, Blue Triangle, 1915