Carla Bley: On Her Own

Carla Bley: On Her Own

FRANK J. OTERI: This is one of the things I want to say about promotion. In the classical music world, and similarly in the jazz world, with these large ensembles you’ll be rehearsing stuff, then you’ll be touring it, and then you’ll record it when it’s hot, then the record is out and that’s it.


FRANK J. OTERI: You know a rock band will do an album and tour to promote the album. How do you promote the album once it’s the past?

CARLA BLEY: You play the same music.

FRANK J. OTERI: But the groups don’t normally stay together. It’s rare.

CARLA BLEY: You think?

FRANK J. OTERI: Yeah, it’s rare in both classical music and jazz. They’re already onto the next thing.

CARLA BLEY: Maybe the people who are listening to it aren’t listening to the individual musicians. Maybe they’re just listening to the composer, or listening to the music, or something. As long as you play the same tunes…

FRANK J. OTERI: Even if it’s a different group.

CARLA BLEY: Yeah, but it wouldn’t be that different would it? I mean in my case I’m bringing the Iridium band to Minneapolis, with the exception of 4 guys.

FRANK J. OTERI: So the Iridium band is going to be the big band, not the quartet you were talking about earlier, right?

CARLA BLEY: No, no. That’s next. We’re going to be doing the same thing. We’re going to record the first tour of the quartet, and then we will tour the following year to promote the album.


CARLA BLEY: See, this is how we do it in this world. It’s nice.

FRANK J. OTERI: The ideal way to get this music heard—this stuff doesn’t get played on the radio a lot, radio is afraid of this stuff…

CARLA BLEY: Well, I don’t blame them. I listen to NPR a lot. When there is a music show I have to go do something else for a half an hour. I’m really not crazy about listening to music because my head had music in it already. I might listen to a talk show or something, but I don’t know if I would want to listen to music on the radio. So I don’t blame them for not playing…

FRANK J. OTERI: So how do people find your music?

CARLA BLEY: They read about it in the magazines; they maybe hear it on the radio [laughs]; they know about other albums the artist has made and want to check out the artist’s new album because they think it might be interesting to revisit that person again—all of those things.

FRANK J. OTERI: One of the most amazing tools that you have—I don’t know if it’s so much a promotional tool because it’s so tongue-and-cheek and so funny—is your website.


FRANK J. OTERI: That website is amazing.

CARLA BLEY: Thank you.

FRANK J. OTERI: It’s like no other website I’ve been to for a composer.

CARLA BLEY: Thank you. It’s not serious. We try not to sell things on it, but lately we have been stooping to that.

FRANK J. OTERI: [laughs]

CARLA BLEY: When my daughter and I originally stated it, we wanted it to be hard to find and that my name would not occur—people would just stumble upon it. We wanted to make it difficult. And when you finally find it, you can’t do what you want to do.

FRANK J. OTERI: You have to go to the receptionist first. [laughs]

CARLA BLEY: Then if you don’t type in the right thing you can’t go visit me in my cell, oh no.

FRANK J. OTERI: You wind up in the showers or somewhere.

CARLA BLEY: Yeah, we tried to make it hard for everybody because we were so tired of the sales game. Why sell something all the time? Why not give people something they can’t have and refuse to sell it to them. Maybe we backed off of that a bit now with all that music for sale in the library. Otherwise, all the lead sheets can be downloaded for free. We didn’t want to make money off of it. Strange.

FRANK J. OTERI: That’s tremendous. It’s a beautiful thing.

CARLA BLEY: And you still can’t find it, right? How did you find it? Oh, someone told you about it.

FRANK J. OTERI: If you go to Google now and search on your name it’s one of the first things that pops up.

CARLA BLEY: Really? I have to change that.

FRANK J. OTERI: [laughs] You can’t!


FRANK J. OTERI: I have to confess that we have a link to the site that is online every May 11th, on your birthday. We put composers’ birthdays on our homepage.

CARLA BLEY: Oh, wow. So, a lot of composers have websites now?


CARLA BLEY: Do you have one?

FRANK J. OTERI: Not as a composer because I’m so busy doing NewMusicBox, but I probably will in the not so distant future.

CARLA BLEY: Watch out because it’s a time eater.

FRANK J. OTERI: I know. Is there anything we missed here that you want to talk about?

CARLA BLEY: Nope. No [yawns], I’m tired of talking!

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