545

Paul Motian: Holiday for Strings

By

Sign in to view read count
Paul Motian: Holiday for Strings Since his halcyon days as drummer for the legendary Bill Evans trio, Paul Motian has consistently pushed the boundaries of jazz. Working mostly in small groups with the likes of Keith Jarrett, Joe Lovano, Bill Frisell and Charlie Haden, Motian has helped liberate percussionists from their role as simple timekeepers by employing a style and phrasing that uses tempo as a starting point, not an end in itself. In the process he’s produced an invigorating body of work (more than a dozen albums as a leader) that steers clear of post-bop clichés and instead evokes the subtleties of mood, atmosphere and texture.

His latest release, the ironically titled Holiday for Strings (Winter & Winter), is no exception. With a new lineup of musicians working under the banner of Motian’s Electric Bebop Band (Andres Christensen on electric bass; Chris Cheek and Pietro Tonolo on tenor and soprano sax; and Ben Monder and Steve Cardenas on guitar), he has produced a moody, melancholy album that nonetheless offers rich rewards for the patient listener. Motian has said in interviews that he wants to avoid “pushy” solos and instead have musicians on the same instrument play together. That approach is apparent on the opening number, “Arabesque,” a Motian composition in which Cheek and Tonolo engage in a kind of sonic dance; one leads with a dominant theme, the other follows and shadows his counterpart. The result is a darkly beautiful kind of symbiosis. As always, Motian floats around the melody, using brushes and cymbals to embellish on the themes established by the horns.

Two more Motian compositions - “5 Miles to Wrentham” and “Morpion” – seamlessly follow, both literally and figuratively, the dreamy, rainy-Sunday-afternoon tone set by “Arabesque.” Indeed, at least in the first part of the album, Motian seems intent on creating a suite of pieces, a thematic whole greater than the sum of its parts. Even “Luteous,” a Monder composition, echoes this mood. It’s not until the up-tempo “Look to the Black Wall” (a Motian number faintly reminiscent of “Giant Steps”) that the band gets any kind of boppish groove going; here, Cheek and Tonolo let loose in a good old-fashioned sax duel. The guitarists follow in turn.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the group is at its most conventional when covering two Richard Rogers standards, “It Never Entered My Mind” and “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning.” But if these covers aren’t particularly innovative, they’re certainly pretty; the saxophones play with a restrained elegance on the former, with the guitars weaving an intricate yet graceful tapestry around them. “Morning” is a fitting coda to the album; it’s a mere wisp of a number, a simple statement of the melody and little more. Yet, in its understated way, it manages to capture the poignant spirit that informs the rest of Holiday for Strings.


Track Listing: Arabesque; 5 Miles to Wrentham; Morpion; Luteous Pangolin; Look to the Black Wall; Holiday for Strings; Endgame; It Never Entered My Mind; Roundup; Oh, What a Beautiful Morning

Personnel: Steve Cardenas - guitar; Ben Monder - guitar; Paul Motian - Drums; Pietro Tonolo - tenor and soprano saxes; Chris Cheek - tenor sax; Andy Christensen - electric bass

Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Winter & Winter | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Before The Silence CD/LP/Track Review Before The Silence
by John Sharpe
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1 CD/LP/Track Review Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by Mark F. Turner
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Process And Reality CD/LP/Track Review Process And Reality
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 24, 2017
Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "Forest Grove" CD/LP/Track Review Forest Grove
by Dave Wayne
Published: March 26, 2016
Read "Goodbye Red Rose (2008/9)" CD/LP/Track Review Goodbye Red Rose (2008/9)
by John Eyles
Published: October 16, 2016
Read "Right to Love" CD/LP/Track Review Right to Love
by Jim Olin
Published: June 19, 2016
Read "Mirror, Mirror" CD/LP/Track Review Mirror, Mirror
by Glenn Astarita
Published: January 3, 2017
Read "Xabregas 10" CD/LP/Track Review Xabregas 10
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 19, 2016
Read "Live at Club Helsinki" CD/LP/Track Review Live at Club Helsinki
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 2, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!