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Carl Michel: Music in Motian

Mike Jurkovic By

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Late drummer, texturalist, bandleader, and composer Paul Motian holds a revered space in the post-bop of the last half century. From early stints with Lennie Tristano and Coleman Hawkins to his seared-into-legend work with Bill Evans on Sunday at the Village Vanguard (Riverside Records, 1961), and Waltz for Debby (Riverside Records, 1962)); through his fiery live and studio performances with Keith Jarrett's American Quartet on The Survivor's Suite (ECM Records, 1967). His compositions held a folk-like quality, and have been recorded by names like Joe Lovano, Bill Frisell and Marilyn Crispell. A wandering spirit at heart, his work up until his death in 2011 at the age of 80 held a deep breadth of passion and collaboration.

Music In Motian, by Emmy winning guitarist Carl Michel and his quartet of bassist Dan Kolton, drummer Alex Trajano and piano-man Mick Dobday is an astute and finely curated, crisply performed collection of the drummer's canon. "India" and "Mode VI" are elegantly ringing, hushed ballads. "In the Year of the Dragon" captures the inherent sense of time Motian's drumming, and composing, heralded, while pianist Dobday colors in the spaces.

Straining-to-cut-into-free-form "Abacus" cuts with a harder edge. Again Dobday holds sway until Michel comes in with the rockiest tone his instrument will have throughout the proceedings. Though brief, "Birdsong" lingers like honeysuckle on an errand breeze. It is on these, as well as "Osmosis," a delicate tumbling with the rhythm section rippling like a lake; the gentle "From Time to Time," and "Arabesque" wherein drummer Trajano conjures the composer with every whispery cymbal flourish and rap-a-tap, that Michel and company uniquely distill all of Motian's many syncopations and melodic shadings. A neat trick indeed.

Track Listing: India; Mode VI; In The Year Of The Dragon; Abacus; Birdsong; Osmosis; From Time To Time; Arabesque; It Should Have Happened A Long Time Ago; Circle Dance.

Personnel: Carl Michel: guitar; Mick Dobday: piano; Dan Kolton: bass; Alex Trajano: drums.

Title: Music in Motian | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Play On Records

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