Paul Motian: Live at the Village Vanguard, Vol. II (2009)
This album was preceded by another tremendous release from the same run and it delivers more of the same; frankly one wonders why the two discs weren't released as a two-CD set. Motian's atmospheric, freely flowing drumming is perfectly paired with Kikuchi's highly chromatic harmonic underpinnings, turning standard (even hackneyed) tunes, such as "'Till We Meet Again" and "If You Could See Me Now," into emotional, angularly improvised compositions, usually featuring extended solos by Potter and Kikuchi. Motian and Grenadier often take a back seat, highlighting the interaction between Potter and Kikuchi, which reaches a climax in the transition between Motian's "Ten" and "Divider." (Listening with good headphones reveals Kikuchi's humming, which adds to the intensity of his improvisation.)
Maneri is less prevalent on this disc, appearing only on a few tracks; his solo on "Fiasco," however, is perfectly timed and blends very nicely with Potter's tenor. His viola's tone recalls a very dark Stephane Grappelli, had he been less obsessed with fast licks and more with expressive, unusual improvisation. That cool, creative sentiment dominates this album and makes it a true pleasure to digest.
Track Listing: Till we meet again; Sunflower; The third walk; Ten; The divider; If you could see me now; Fiasco.
Personnel: Paul Motian: drums; Chris Potter: tenor saxophone; Larry Grenadier: bass; Greg Osby: alto saxophone; Mat Manieri: viola; Masabumi Kikuchi: piano.
Record Label: Winter & Winter
Style: Free Improv/Avant-Garde