You just need to “see” her at the piano or lead an orchestra and you understand. She has beauty, humour, intelligence and a rare original talent. The kind of woman you imagine when thinking of a female musician.As a child, she listened when her father’s Californian students practised their piano skills. “That gave me a taste for bizarre notes…” she would say. At age 17, she was hired as a “cigarette girl” at the Blue Note in New York where she met her first husband, pianist Paul Bley. She wrote six songs for his recording, among them Ida Lupino (homage to the actress). Even today, Bley considers her compositions “inevitable”. Her second husband, composer Michael Mantler has the same esteem for Carla as well as her former husband Paul. Steve Swallow is the current man in her life and she has known him for 35 years. They live together in a house near Woodstock, they perform together but compose separately and they have a great influence on each other.