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Enrico Pieranunzi & Paul Motian: Doorways

Chris May By

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Enrico Pieranunzi & Paul Motian: Doorways Another landmark album in the long and distinguished careers of Enrico Pieranunzi and Paul Motian, Doorways is one hour of sumptuous and transcendentally beautiful music fashioned with the simplest tools—a piano and a drum kit (and on three tracks only, a saxophone). Simultaneously lyrical and percussive, rhapsodic and vigorous, it speaks equally to the emotions and the intellect and conjures up a bigger cosmos than you would think possible from such a restricted palette.

Along with Pieranunzi's and Motian's individual artistry, the reason the set succeeds so brilliantly is the extraordinary degree of empathy—at times bordering on the telepathic—which they each bring to the occasion. It helps too that all three musicians were already pretty well known to each other before the sessions (in Rome, over three days in December '02). Pieranunzi and Motian first recorded together as a duo in '92, on what became the live set Flux & Change, and guest saxophonist Chris Potter has recorded regularly with Motian since the late '90s.

Although this is primarily Pieranunzi's album—he wrote all the material except for the three totally improvised "Double Excursions"—Motian's contribution is immense. Eschewing motor rhythms entirely, he instead drives the music forward with a stream of asymmetrical, neo-melodic snare drum and cymbal patterns, underpinned with subtle bass drum and tom-tom accents. From the achingly beautiful melodicism of "Suspension Points" and "Words Of The Sea" through to the more edgy "Utre" and "Double Excursion 3," he is Pieranunzi's dream partner here.

Potter excels himself too, absolutely holding his own with his two elder statesmen colleagues. The age range of the trio is remarkable: at the time of recording Motian was 72 and Pieranunzi 54 and Potter just 33—and while Potter has no monopoly on energy and fecundity here, neither do Pieranunzi and Motian have one on maturity and depth. The saxophonist's solo on the spacey, noir -ish "Doorways" is a highlight of the album, as is his fearless "outside" work on "Anecdote," where he creates a bracing sonic whirlwind reminiscent of David S. Ware.

Gripping, thrillingly inventive stuff from start to finish.


Track Listing: Double Excursion 1; Double Excursion 2; Doorways; No Waltz For Paul; Utre; Blue Evening; Anecdote; Suspension Points; Double Excursion 3; Words Of The Sea; The Shifting Scene; The Heart Of A Child; Utre (alternative version).

Personnel: Enrico Pieranunzi, piano; Paul Motian, drums; Chris Potter, tenor and soprano saxophones on "Doorways", "Anecdote" and "The Heart Of A Child."

Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: CAM Jazz | Style: Modern Jazz


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