As a drummer, Paul Motian (1931-2011) came to an early fame from his association with Bill Evans. It was the pianist's 1961 Riverside Records trio albums Waltz for Debby and Sunday at the Village Vanguard that did the trick, shifting the way of the piano trio into the direction of democracy and intricate interplay, also launching Motian's career as a much coveted sideman, with pianists Paul Bley and Keith Jarrett, saxophonist Charles Lloyd and bassist Charlie Haden--a list that just scratches the surface. He was, until his passing in 2011, a prolific sideman. As a bandleader, however, Motian ...read more
Soon after hearing about Paul Motian's passing (November 22, 2011) I felt the urge to delve (again) into his music. Later on, inspired by a moving writing by Ellery Eskelin (published on his website and reproduced below, by his kind permission), I thought it would have been interesting to collect brief memories from musicians which worked with him during his long career, as well as from those who were deeply influenced by him. So I started my research, contacting as many musicians as possible: many replied with enthusiasm, you will read their recollections here. ...read more
Italian jazz pianist Enrico Pieranunzi, with his melodic romanticism and wondrous sense of harmony, deepened by by his classical training, gets compared often and aptly to the legendary and game-changing pianist Bill Evans (1929-1980). While Pieranunzi's style is more gregarious, and less introspective than that of Evans--and often more abstract--he does share with the late piano icon a penchant for the mode of the interactive trio. In the case of Live at the Village Vanguard, the comparison can be pushed further: the set's drummer, Paul Motian--who passed away in 2011; this is one of his last recording efforts--sat in the ...read more
In a time when leadership roles are being thrust increasingly upon young musicians who may have the chops, the technique and the theory, but not the experience, drummer Paul Motian could be considered a lesson in patience, in waiting for the right time, in holding off for the precise moment of readiness.It's not that Motian couldn't, perhaps, have begun a career leading groups sooner than November, 1972 when, at the age of 41, he entered Butterfly and Sound Ideas Studios in New York City with ECM producer Manfred Eicher. Creating what's since become a classic recording that, from ...read more
The parts of the drum set, viewed individually or as a collective whole, fit neatly under the percussion" heading in the musical instrument world, yet Paul Motian rarely seemed to view them as objects to be struck. Motian found a way to finesse the cymbals, flirt with the drums and free the drum set from the shackles of firm placement and strict time. His painterly approach to playing, which helped to give the Bill Evans Trio its organic identity, set a new standard in jazz, and Motian continued to delight in defying drumming conventions until the day he died, in ...read more
While Paul Motian's music could be regarded as amalgam of the predetermined and the free, that tells only a small part of the story. Similarly, arguing that his drumming was a merging of Kenny Clarke and Sunny Murray is no more helpful, even as it hints at the freedom in his work. But at this moment in time, and of course in light of his recent death in November, 2011, it feels too soon to determine whether or not he was an innovator on par with those two gentlemen. What is undeniable, however, is his good fortune ...read more
There is an edge-of-sleep quality to the recently departed Paul Motian's drumming, and to much of the music he recorded. It's a dreaminess that reflects the spark of subconscious creativity even as the body sits at rest. For the Love of Sarah is a tribute to Motian's music, and from the opening moments it's like stepping into the middle of a story about a dream.It would be difficult not to draw comparisons with another recent Motian tribute album recorded shortly before his passing: guitarist Joel Harrison's String Choir and The Music of Paul Motian (Sunnyside Records, 2011). But ...read more
Shimmering behind Bill's subtle reharmonies of the Gershwin tune LaFaro's pungent doublestops and even that asshole girl's phony laugh at the climax is your intelligence I've never heard nor ever will hear the like it's only Sunday night at the Village Vanguard but I feel it's the garden of Eden Years later it actually was or you made us think it was again when you wrote that primeval drone four notes the tenors moan in unison you obstinately not keeping the beat and three electric guitars jangling like cicadas ...read more
[This is an encore presentation of Paul Motian's April 2006 interview with All About Jazz.] Paul Motian doesn't like being interviewed. That said, the 75-year-old drummer has plenty to say, and doesn't hesitate to speak his mind. Motian first came to prominence in the late 1950s as one-third (with bassist Scott LaFaro and pianist Bill Evans) of the great Bill Evans Trio, which upended expectations of just what a jazz piano trio was supposed to do (at this point, however, he had already gigged with Thelonious Monk, Lennie Tristano and George Russell). He's played ...read more
Chick Corea / Eddie Gomez / Paul Motian Further Explorations Universal Classics and Jazz Japan 2011 Three still-living jazz icons team up on Further Explorations, an album inspired by another legend whose influence remains unequivocal, 30 years after passing away, age 51, in 1980. Gaining initial exposure as a member of Bill Evans' first trio on New Jazz Conceptions (Riverside, 1956), drummer Paul Motian left the group nearly four years before bassist Eddie Gomez would commence an eleven-year run with the pianist on At the Montreux Jazz Festival (Verve, 1968).Though the connection is less direct, ...read more
While Paul Motian's name is on the spine of this CD, guitarist Bill Frisell is the tie that binds this band. Frisell's ability to paint ethereal coats of sound in an earnest manner that speaks to his love of all things musical is at the heart of this program, which may be seen as an expansion of Petra Haden and Bill Frisell (True North, 2003)--a woefully overlooked vocals and guitar date which contains intimate and highly expressive takes on the music of Henry Mancini, Tom Waits, Stevie Wonder, George Gershwin, and many more. Motian, Frisell, Haden, and bassist Thomas Morgan, ...read more
Paul Motian Quartet Tribute to the MJQ"Village VanguardNew York, NYMay 20, 2011 The boundary between past and present in jazz has, over the years, become a source of overwrought debate. The rise of Tribute" shows at New York City's big name clubs gives ammunition to those who say that jazz today looks too much to its past at the expense of its future. But good musicians make good music, regardless of how it's advertised, and the great Paul Motian's weeklong tribute to the Modern Jazz Quartet at the Vanguard showed that paying tribute should ...read more
Paul Motian Trio 2000 + TwoLive at the Village Vanguard, Volume IIIWinter & Winter2011 It almost seems like a challenge to the critical establishment: return to the scene of your greatest early-career triumph, 40 years later, surrounded by active musicians instead of legends, and see what happens. Drummer Paul Motian, a fundamental gear in the Bill Evans Trio's landmark Sunday at the Vanguard (Riverside, 1961), has spent many of the intervening years pianoless, whether flanked by saxophonist Joe Lovano and guitarist Bill Frisell in another classic trio, or amid the reeds ...read more
Avant-garde and jazz legacy: in 2005, the German ECM label released Goodbye, from Swedish pianist Bobo Stenson, bassist Anders Jormin and drummer Paul Motian. The record represents the most accomplished work in Stenson's discography, because it wonderfully and fully embraces the latest jazz musical concepts and the perfect interplay between its band members. The album recalls Bill Evans's jazz trio ensembles, in terms of chords structure and, above all, arrangements. The first tune, Send in The Clowns," opens with a few chords announcing the theme, followed by a very lyrical synergy between Jormin and Stenson, who ...read more
Join our growing community ofwriters, musicians, visual artists and advocates.
One moment, you will be redirected shortly.