Like her music, Carla Bley is totally disarming. She has a great mop of hair that she likes to hide behind when she talks, and you have the sensation that this cat and mouse game -- from time to time she peeks out from behind the bangs to record your reaction to something she has just said -- is just a part of the greater game of contradictions she expresses in her music. She is enigmatic both because she has proven herself to be a successful business women in a business where very few women take control of the means of their own production, and because her compositions, while they reflect several contemporary idioms, are unquestionably unique to her own style. Her music is alternatively thought of as avant garde and very traditional, and the musicians who have worked with her over the years are very loyal, appearing as her private repertory group as she continues to expand her vision (while hiding behind those bangs.) We spoke on a cold New York afternoon.