Paul Bley, El Cordobès, Only Sweetly, and Old Vinyl

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The other day I was reading the latest issue of Absolute Sound, an audiophile publication that recently published a piece about Henry Rollins called “Henry Rollins:  I Am an Audiophile!”  I wrote a blogpost about that on my KCRW Rhythm Planet column (  In the new ish there was an article about classic lp’s that have never been reissued/need to get reissued.  One of those lp’s was an album by one of my favorite jazz pianists, Paul Bley:  it was issued on the Dutch label Fontana Records in 1966 and was titled “Blood”.  Now I was sure, as I approached the “B” section of my vinyl library, that I didn’t have this lp or if I did it must have been sold, loaned out, or otherwise gone.  (I sold my vinyl collection in 1976 to Rhino Records to help pay for long distance phone bills occasioned by my breakup with my French girlfriend.  What a waste!).

To my utter surprise and delight I found the album.  The original one with the black and cover and the profile shot of Bley smoking a pipe.  I had written “Tom S.” on it, and probably bought it during the 70s.  The other night I cleaned it off with a lp washer/vacuum, then listened.  After a few minutes came a song I remembered distinctly.  When this happens I can remember melodic lines and especially chord changes and harmonic progressions even if I haven’t heard something for 30 years.  This positive attribute somewhat makes up for my failing memory.

The song was by Annette Peacock, an interesting songwriter whom Bley, Carla Bley, Steve Swallow and others have often covered.  It was called “El Cordobes”, named after a famous Spanish bullfigther of the 1960s. This brought up another memory:  My first girlfriend was in love with El Cordobes while she was living in Spain.  Knowing that back when I was 20 years old didn’t exactly build confidence.  She and I broke up when she decided to move to Spain.

Music is funny, strange and full of surprises.  It certainly evokes as many memories as Proust’s madeleine.  I’m so happy I kept this record, and glad I still have a decent vinyl library.  That’s where memories live.

Here’s a cut from the long-out-of-print and un-reissued  lp “Blood”:

[audio:|titles=Paul Bley – Only Sweetly]