Though Heavy Heart was supposedly the "mellow, sensual" album Carla Bley had in mind, Night-Glo is more like it – a relaxed, easygoing, easy-listening series of compositions that nearly spills over into fuzak. Writing for a basic sextet with an added five-man horn section, most effectively when one color melts gently into another, Bley permits the lazy pina-colada mood to amble undisturbed from track to track.
Watt had many of the same ingredients as its predecessor, Cricklewood Green, but wasn't nearly as well thought out. The band had obviously spent much time on the road, leaving little time for developing new material…
For his first solo album, Mike Watt assembled a different band for each track, creating a veritable who's who of post-punk and alternative rock – Eddie Vedder, Dave Grohl, Thurston Moore, J Mascis, Frank Black, Evan Dando, Dave Pirner, Henry Rollins, Flea, Lee Ranaldo, Mike D, and Pat Smear all appear, among others. Predictably, the sound is somewhat schizophrenic, but no more so than the average Minutemen album. (…) And Watt's own vocals on "Big Train" are as big-hearted, sly, and funny as the album itself.
In a fanciful press release for this record, Carla Bley wrote that she wanted to make a record that would "put people in a mellow, sensual mood" as opposed to getting them all riled up as usual. She must have meant some of this ironically, for while Heavy Heart is a somewhat bright, light-minded album, there are plenty of dark undercurrents to be heard. For example, take the fascinating "Light or Dark," where a light, happy texture is undercut by Hiram Bullock's intruding dissonant guitar and Kenny Kirkland's discordant comping.
For over forty years, Carla Bley has written music that infuses jazz traditions with her own personality. She continues to lead a variety of ensembles, from small combos to large-scale big bands. With Looking for America, Bley returns to the big band format. Totaling 18 pieces, the group is a rich blend of 13 horns, two keyboards, and a rhythm section. She has worked with many of the featured musicians for decades, and Bley consequently composes and arranges with their individual voices in mind.