In 1968, Paul Bley recorded and released Mr. Joy, featuring Bley on piano, Gary Peacock on bass, and Bill Elgart on drums. The jazz album also showcases Annette Peacock, who composed six of the eight tracks. Manufactured by Mercury Records in the U.K., the LP was released on Limelight, a Mercury sub-label, in the United States.
Side A begins with Paul Bley’s “Only Lovely,” followed by three Annette Peacock compositions, “Kid Dynamite,” “Nothing Ever Was, Anyway,” and “El Cordobes.” The trio’s version of Ornette Coleman’s 1960 track “Ramblin’” a track Bley first played on when his Los Angeles rehearsal band evolved into the first Ornette Coleman Quartet in the late 1950s, opens Side B. Three more originals by Annette Peacock, “Touching,” “Blood,” and the title track, close out the album.
Paul Bley’s composition “Only Lovely” is on YouTube:
The album features seven tracks recorded at a concert at the University of Washington, Seattle in May 1968. The final track, “Mr. Joy,” was done in the studio the next day as Bill Elgart recalls Paul Bley was not satisfied with the initial recording.
Bill Elgart comments:
“Before the performance, Bley announced an album was being made. It was a strange feeling because after we finished each piece, there was silence, no sound at all from the audience. Finally, the tape player clicked off, and a massive wave of sound filled the packed hall, lasting for several minutes. I’ll never forget that.”
“Kid Dynamite,” composed by Annette Peacock, is online:
Bley, who first rose to fame when he founded the Jazz Workshop in his native Montreal, Canada in the 1950s, performed and recorded in the late 1950s and early 1960s with musicians like Art Blakey, Jimmy Giuffre, Coleman Hawkins, Charles Mingus, Sonny Rollins, and Lester Young. In the mid-1960s, Bley and Massachusetts-born Elgart met in New York. In 1964, bassist Kent Carter (Elgart’s future bandmate on the 2014 Plaything album, with Gianni Lenoci) invited Elgart to play with Carla Bley’s band at a concert at the Jazz Composer’s Guild in New York City.
A year or two later, Bill Elgart and Paul Bley, Carla’s husband, would first play together. This meeting was set up through bassist Mark Levinson, an old friend of Elgart’s from the late 50s. The three of them jammed at Levinson’s parent’s house in New Haven, Connecticut.
“Touching,” another Annette Peacock composition from Mr. Joy, is here:
Several years after playing in the series of free jazz performances that were later referred to as New York’s October Revolution in Jazz, Bill Elgart was living in California in the first of two West Coast stints. One day, shortly before he returned East, Elgart recalls:
“Paul Bley called out of the blue, asking if I was interested in doing a concert in Seattle with him and bassist Gary Peacock.”
He agreed and a single live performance was recorded in May 1968.
This was Bill (aka “Billy”) Elgart’s first appearance on vinyl, the beginning of a prolific career that includes playing drums and percussion on scores of albums between 1968 and 2016–most recently on Krisch – Höfler – Elgart – Newton’s Lonely Woman CD and download for JazzHausMusik.
“Mr. Joy,” composed by Annette Peacock, is on YouTube:
According to the liner notes on the 1975 reissue of Mr. Joy by U.S. label Trip Jazz, bassist Gary Peacock, a longtime colleague of pianist Paul Bley, was not playing regularly when the album was recorded as he was teaching macrobiotics at Seattle’s Free University.
The same source, Doug Ramsey, also shares an earlier Paul Bley assessment of the then little-known drummer, Bill Elgart, whom he refers to as:
“a very vivid player, a man of ideas.”
To date, Mr. Joy has only been released as an LP and 8-Track Tape. However, vinyl versions have been released in the United Kingdom, Japan, and the United States and the 1975 reissue by Trip Jazz is easily found at sources like Discogs.com. In addition, “Mr. Joy” and “Kid Dynamite” are included on the 1975 album Turning Point, which is currently available in CD and as a download from iTunes USA among other online music retailers.
Alternatively, a video LP of Paul Bley’s Mr. Joy with all eight tracks is online:
One More Track from Paul Bley, Gary Peacock, and Bill Elgart
In 1970, Paul Bley with Gary Peacock was released featuring three tracks with Bill Elgart, “Gary,” “Big Foot,” and “Albert’s Love Theme.” Two of these, “Gary” and “Albert’s Love Theme,” were composed by Annette Peacock.
The tracks came from the same concert in Seattle that all of the Mr. Joy cuts, minus one, were recorded in 1968.
A truncated version of “Big Foot” from Paul Bley with Gary Peacock (1970), composed by Bley, which is now available as an LP, CD, and digital download, is here:
Paul Bley and Annette Peacock in 1970
In 1970, Paul Bley and Annette Peacock formed The Synthesizer Show, using a pair of recently acquired Moog synthesizers.
Peacock and Bley also released their synthesizer-driven Dual Unity album the same year.
A performance by Bley and Peacock in Vienna that was broadcast live on European radio and also includes Peacock on vocals has been uploaded to the Internet:
More Music and Info
A performance of Paul Bley and Charlie Haden live at the Kaplan Penthouse on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in 2000 is online:
MySpace [an amazing site that includes Gary Peacock’s Shift In The Wind (1981) and Guamba (1987), as well as his work as a sideman on Keith Jarrett’s Yesterdays (2001), Keith Jarrett’s Settings Standards: The New York Sessions (1983), Keith Jarrett’s Always Let Me Go (2001), Keith Jarrett’s At The Dear Head Inn (1992), Marc Copeland’s At Night (1991), Markus Stockhausen’s Cosi Lontano… quasi dentro (2008), Chick Corea, Joe Henderson, Roy Haynes, and Peacock’s Live At Montreux (1981), Bill Connors’ Of Mist And Melting (1977), the soundtrack for Slippery When Wet (2011), and Yuri Honing’s Seven (2001), featuring Paul Bley, Gary Peacock, Paul Motian, and Honing]
Pianist Keith Jarrett, drummer Jack DeJohnette, and bassist Gary Peacock recorded Standards in Tokyo on 15 February 1985. All ten tracks are online:
In 2016, vibraphonist Dizzy Krisch, bassist Karoline Höfler, and Bill Elgart joined guest vocalist Lauren Newton on their Lonely Woman album for JazzHausMusik. “Green,” composed by Krisch, is on YouTube: