All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Profiles

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

15

Memories in Motian

Zeno De Rossi By

Sign in to view read count
We have lost one of the greatest musicians on the planet, one who discovered the secret of playing 'simply' pure music.
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. Others declined due to lack of time, others, unfortunately, never replied.

The idea which guided the project was very simple: I asked each musician to choose a tune from Motian's discography and write a few lines about him or his music. The first request aims to sketch a sort of in absentia compilation, which could work as a guide to listening for the curious reader; the second tries to shape a multifaceted vision of the artist using the musicians' words.

In other words, All About Paul.

What is clearly coming to light from these writings is the relevance of Motian's music in the creative path of more than a generation of musicians: a sort of underground river that contributed to trace new directions in the history of contemporary jazz.

I heard Paul Motian playing live for the first time 23 years ago. In the summer of 1990, after my high school final exam, I took off for Orbetello, a beautiful town in Tuscany, with a friend of mine for my first (and last) camping holiday.

After coming and setting our tent up we went to town for a walk, to find out what was on that evening. Soon after we met some local friends, which told us about a jazz concert in the park. My friend was reluctant, so I decided to go alone, and, sure to stumble upon a band of local musicians, I was amazed to find out that I was going to listen to Geri Allen's trio with Charlie Haden and Paul Motian. I still remember the magic of that music, and the darkness which was surrounding the stage, to prevent the insects from swarming on the musicians.

That same year I listened to Paul Motian Trio, with Bill Frisell and Joe Lovano, for the first time. It was an unforgettable night in an unforgettable club in Verona, "Il Posto." I remember the musicians coming breathless on stage, severely delayed; the house was already full and eager to listen. They were just able to set up their instruments and do a quick line-check before starting one of those concerts that changed my life forever.

I was lucky enough to listen to Motian many other times, and in various contexts. Each time I was struck by his ability of keeping the music in a perfect balance with a few fundamental gestures. His way of playing was unique, deeply rooted in the tradition, but totally modern and personal; his compositions simple, but profound. He has been a guiding light which led me into fabulous, beautiful places.

Regarding his art, there is nothing I can add to what is stated by the memories you will read. It is clear to me that we have lost one of the greatest musicians on the planet, one who discovered the secret of playing simply Pure Music.

I would like to thank Francesco Bigoni for the precious translations, my wife Nicoletta for the constant editing and, most of all, the great musicians which replied and made this project happen with their touching and invaluable contributions.

Que Viva Paul!

Impressions Of Motian

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read A Vintage Year For Jessica Felix And The Healdsburg Jazz Festival Profiles
A Vintage Year For Jessica Felix And The Healdsburg Jazz...
by Arthur R George
Published: April 19, 2018
Read Cecil Taylor: 1929-2018 Profiles
Cecil Taylor: 1929-2018
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 7, 2018
Read Boston Celebration: The Legacy of Bob Brookmeyer Profiles
Boston Celebration: The Legacy of Bob Brookmeyer
by Doug Hall
Published: March 13, 2018
Read The Jazz Corner's Lois Masteller Makes It Happen Profiles
The Jazz Corner's Lois Masteller Makes It Happen
by Gloria Krolak
Published: February 21, 2018
Read Savoy Records: From Newark To The World Profiles
Savoy Records: From Newark To The World
by Jordan Levy
Published: February 6, 2018
Read Ranky Tanky: African Rhythms Preserved Profiles
Ranky Tanky: African Rhythms Preserved
by Martin McFie
Published: January 18, 2018
Read "Soweto Kinch: A Singular Jazz Odyssey" Profiles Soweto Kinch: A Singular Jazz Odyssey
by David Burke
Published: August 10, 2017
Read "Fabian Almazan: Environmental Action Figure" Profiles Fabian Almazan: Environmental Action Figure
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: January 9, 2018
Read "The Jazz Corner's Lois Masteller Makes It Happen" Profiles The Jazz Corner's Lois Masteller Makes It Happen
by Gloria Krolak
Published: February 21, 2018
Read "Denys Baptiste: Making the Late Trane Accessible" Profiles Denys Baptiste: Making the Late Trane Accessible
by David Burke
Published: October 10, 2017
Read "Jon Hendricks: Vocal Ease" Profiles Jon Hendricks: Vocal Ease
by Greg Thomas
Published: November 23, 2017