06 August 2006

Enthusiasms (1) - Paul Motian

Every so often I become more or less obsessed with a musician or writer or theorist or artist. So I figure I might as well impose my obsessions on readers here. Fair warning - I plan to do so periodically. At the moment I am preoccupied with drummer Paul Motian (who, as far as I can tell, unfortunately has no web site). Last winter I bought his 2005 CD "I have the Room Above Her" (ECM) which features his trio with Joe Lovano and Bill Frisell.

This week I picked up his two more recent CDs. One, also on ECM, is entitled "Garden of Eden" featuring a septet (two saxophones, three guitars, bass and drums). The thing about this recording is that it tacks back and forth between originals and interpretations of work by probably my favorite two jazz composers Mingus and Monk. (In that respect I highly recommend Motian's 1988 release Monk in Motian on JMT). The idiosyncratic instrumentation and arrangements make the originals enticing and the covers fresh.

The real kicker, however, is the third release "On Broadway Vol. 4 or The Paradox of Continuity" on Winter & Winter Records. This is, as the title suggests, the 4th in a series of recordings covering Broadway tunes by various composers. I think all four volumes are still available. Motian started the series (who knew?) in the late 1980s. This project too features different versions of a trio. The current incarnation includes Chris Potter and Larry Grenadier augmented on each number by either pianist Masabumi Kikuchi or vocalist Rebecca Martin. The interpretations are all more or less off kilter (this is not Tony Bennett here) but each is really, really terrific. Three great recordings that contribute to, rework, and extend the jazz canon in two years by a fellow who is, after all, only 76 years old. This is what a long life is for!

[Thanks to Schoolkids Records - Ann Arbor & to the The Bop Shop - Rochester!]

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