2015 NEA Jazz Master Carla Bley remembers meeting her first husband, jazz great Paul Bley. [:39]

I got a job at Birdland selling cigarettes. It was really exciting, I got to hear everybody. Paul Bley came and bought a pack of cigarettes from me a couple of months into the gig. I started writing for him immediately. He wanted me to write for him. He would say, “I have a record date tomorrow, and I need six tunes.” So I would sit down and write them, just small, little ideas. And then other people started asking me to write for them.

But a lot of bass players past through Paul Bley. If they came to town, they would look him up, because he always needed a bass player. He gave them a lot of room. 

Canadian-born jazz great Paul Bley passed away on January 3, 2016. Here, NEA Jazz Master Carla Bley recalls her first job at Birdland and her first encounter with her future husband.