Last Time First
Vanessa Bley & Tavahn Ghazi
December 9, 2020
October 25, 2020
April 11, 2018
Life & Death Vanessa Bley
August 3, 2017
June 29, 2015
June 10, 2014
Beast Patrol Vanessa Bley
January 3, 2014
Fierce & Grateful
October 3, 2012
Daughter of late jazz pianist Paul Bley and pioneer video artist Carol Goss, Vanessa Bley was born in 1985 in Miami, Florida. She is best known as front woman for haze-pop band Beast Patrol, noted "Band to Watch" by Rolling Stone, and the band Twin Danger, described by Jazziz magazine as "the brainchild of vocalist-pianist-guitarist Vanessa Bley and saxophonist-guitarist Stuart Mathewman, is like the jazz equivalent of film noir." Or as NPR described their Decca released debut album, "The Sound of Frank Sinatra Meets The Clash."
Vanessa Bley grew up in Cherry Valley, NY. She studied piano and flute as a child but she stymied her teachers because she could play anything by ear once she had heard it. At age eleven she began doing live performance dance interacting with video images being created by her mother at the Experimental Television Center and in the Not Still Art Festival in NYC and Boston. In 2000 WNET broadcast the video art piece "Wrapture" with Paul Bley's synthesizer music, Vanessa Bley's movement and Goss's video. Also, at age eleven she performed as a Furie in the Glimmerglass Opera production of "Iphigénie en Tauride."
In 2006 Bley graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology, after which she worked for a while at Estee Lauder corporate. She began playing in downtown Manhattan clubs, including CBGBs, Pianos, The Bowery Electric and others. In 2008 Bley co-wrote and performed the composition "Creepshow" with Estonian artist Kerli. "Creepshow" was later used by Electronic Arts in a video game.
Vanessa Bley's early solo compositions encompass a wide range of subjects, from "Goodbye Love" to "Golden Glamor," which was composed in 2011 to lyrics written by James Raisin, writer/director of the Candy Darling / Andy Warhol documentary, "Beautiful Darling."
While launching the band Beast Patrol, Bley was introduced to environmental activism and Josh Fox by her sister, Angelica Palmer, which led to multiple performances for Fox’s anti-fracking movement. In a 2013 Rolling Stone review of Beast Patrol in addition to describing Bley’s vocals as “luscious” they said, “It's not every day that you stumble across a world-class rock band playing in a park (Union Square) and using bicycle pedals to power their amplifiers.” At this time, Bley and and Beast Patrol bassist Anthony Marchesi launched the DJ blog SpaceCampRadio.com on Newtown Radio out of Bushwick Brooklyn.
In 2013 Vanessa Bley married painter and video artist, Max Gleason. They collaborated on a number of music videos together, including "Hit the Breaks", "Distant Grandeur" and "Sunset Hangover." They would work side-by-side in their studio, she improvising, he painting. In 2018 they did a joint live painting event at a pop-up gallery in Santa Barbara.
Bley co-wrote and produced Twin Danger's self-titled debut album with the co-founder of Sade, saxophonist and guitarist Stuart Matthewman. The album, released by Decca / Universal Classics, went to #1 on the iTunes Jazz Chart and received four stars from Downbeat, leading to an interview on NPR’s "All Things Considered" and shows around the world including Billboard Live, Tokyo.
In addition to her two bands and solo records, Bley scored film and art installations, including a recent multi-sensorial perfume installation for International Flavors & Fragrances and Sony Arcade as well as the audio score for the film “Eyes of the Moon,” which debuted at the Marfa Film Festival. Apropos of her major at FIT, Cosmetics & Fragrance Marketing, and her passion for environmental protection, in 2016 she founded Becky Boo, an organic, zero waste, toxin free skincare company.
In 2017, Bley released a solo record entitled, "Life & Death," inspired by the passing of her father, as well her move from New York City after 14 years, to Los Angeles. The album, released August 3, 2017, topped American Alternative and College Radio charts. She performed in LA and New York that year, as well as in Rome, with jazz pianist, Greg Burk.
In 2018 she recorded two improvised solo piano albums at the Granada Theater in Santa Barbara. The first titled "Colors" was released in 2018. The second album, "Seasons" was released posthumously in 2020. In 2018 she also returned to Tokyo for a gig and an interview with Kenny Inaoka's Tokyo Jazz magazine. In 2019 up to the time of her passing she had been working on a genre-defying recording with musician Tavahn Ghazi of San Francisco, in which she mixed guitar, vocals, bass, piano. Their collaborative album "Last Time First" was released by Text Me Records in 2020.
Vanessa Bley died, along with her and Max's two year old daughter, Lucienne, and four month old son, Desmond, Friday afternoon October 25, 2019 on California Rt.154 when another driver intentionally swerved into their lane and hit them head-on. Vanessa loved and was loved by her family, friends, colleagues and communities. She is survived by her husband, Max Gleason, his family; her mother, Carol Goss; her sister, Angelica Palmer, her nephew and niece, Felix Bley Palmer and Zoletta Palmer and extended family.