Carla Bley (née Lovella May Borg; born May 11, 1936) is an American jazz composer, pianist, organist and bandleader. An important figure in the free jazz movement of the 1960s, she is perhaps best known for her jazz opera Escalator over the Hill (released as a triple LP set), as well as a book of compositions that have been performed by many other artists, including Gary Burton, Jimmy Giuffre, George Russell, Art Farmer, John Scofield and her ex-husband Paul Bley.
Bley was born in Oakland, California to Emil Borg (1899-1990), a piano teacher and church choirmaster, who encouraged her to sing and to learn to play the piano, and Arline Anderson (1907-1944), who died when Bley was 8 years old. After giving up the church to immerse herself in roller skatingat the age of fourteen, she moved to New York at seventeen and became a cigarette girl at Birdland, where she met jazz pianist Paul Bley. She toured with him under the name Karen Borg, before she changed her name in 1957 to Carla Borg and married Paul Bley the same year adapting the Bley name. He encouraged her to start composing. The couple later divorced but she kept his surname professionally.