Paul Bley, avant-garde jazz pianist, dead at 83

Tue Jan 5, 2016 4:38pm EST
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(Reuters) - Canadian jazz pianist Paul Bley, whose career spanned seven decades and myriad forms of the genre, died on Sunday at his home in Florida, according to his record company, ECM Records. He was 83.

His death was announced late on Monday. No other details were available.

Bley began studying music at age 5 and formed his first band in Montreal when he was 13.

He went on to co-found the Montreal Jazz Workshop, studied at the Julliard School and played and recorded with such jazz greats as Charlie Parker, Charles Mingus, Chet Baker, Jimmy Giuffre, and many others.

He was known as a master of improvisation and the jazz trio, and an influence in the free jazz and avant-garde movement of the 1960s and 70s.

"As a fragmentary approach to the well-chosen note or chord, the idea that only this note or that counts, restricting the number of notes and thinking about those notes before you play – Paul Bley was the best at this," said ECM Records founder Manfred Eicher, in a statement posted on Tuesday by the company.

Bley was named in 2008 as a member of the Order of Canada, which recognizes the merit and contributions of its citizens, for his influence on jazz music and performers.

According to a statement distributed by an ECM publicist, private services will be held in Florida, New York and "and wherever you play a Paul Bley record."

(Reporting by Karen Brooks in Dallas, Texas; Editing by Tom Brown)