Paul Motian Trio 2000 + One: On Broadway, Vol. 4: Or The Paradox of Continuity


Sign in to view read count
Paul Motian Trio 2000 + One: On Broadway, Vol. 4: Or The Paradox of Continuity On the year of his 75th birthday, Paul Motian has released Volume 4 in his ongoing On Broadway series. This time his group, Trio 2000 + One, features saxophonist Chris Potter and bassist Larry Grenadier, augmented by pianist Masabumi Kikuchi on five of the thirteen tracks and vocalist Rebecca Martin on the remaining eight. No matter that not all of the song selections are associated with Broadway: all are staples of the American Songbook, ranging from the torchy "Everything Happens to Me" to the elegiac "Last Night When We Were Young," from the poignant "Never Let Me Go" to the melodramatic "Brother Can You Spare a Dime" and the just plain campy "In a Shanty in Old Shanty Town."

Are these interpretations best thought of as serious, minimalist "performances," or as illuminating "deconstructions" of musical texts that have become obscured by over familiarity and cluttered settings? Both Potter and Martin, whose vocal quality is reminiscent of Broadway star Bernadette Peters, provide ample evidence for the former conclusion, with strong and complete readings of the material.

In fact, Chris Potter's intimate knowledge of the songs and singular command of his instrument (no saxophonist is more effective at connecting the upper and lower registers of the horn) practically insure that no stone is left unturned in mining the melodic-harmonic possibilities inherent in this material. On the other hand, Kikuchi's insertion of the occasional melodic fragment as a departure point, together with his insistent use of the sostenuto pedal, moves his tracks toward atonality and abstraction, though on neither "Never Let Me Go" (second version) nor "I Loves You Porgy" can he deter Potter from referencing the songs' melodic and chordal sequences in their totality.

When Kikuchi has the tune all to himself, as in "Last Night When We Were Young," the effect of the non-musical vocalizations with which he accompanies himself is frankly eerie, as though he were a medium "channeling" the song rather than performing it. In fact, I'm reminded of the dead man who, in Kurosawa's film classic Rashomon, is ultimately called upon to speak the truth about his own death through the use of a medium. Just as the jury in Kurosawa's film learns that even dead men can lie, the listener of Kikuchi's interpretation of Harold Arlen's song may have serious doubts about the source of its inspiration.

As for the rhythm section, Motian maintains meter but eschews a conventional two-beat feel as well as 4/4 swing, preferring to punctuate and highlight movement rather than establish and articulate it. Grenadier's role complements the leader's approach, though in most measures he is careful to place one of his notes on, or close to, the downbeat.

Each of the tracks has something to offer, whether as a revelation or a reminder of songs that, over the course of Broadway's lengthening history, have become part not only of Motian's experience but also of public consciousness. At the same time, the somewhat limited textures and repetitious tempos of this 66-minute program will most likely discourage some listeners' attempts to digest it in a single sitting. In fact, from the opening "The Last Dance" to the closing "How Long Has This Been Going On?" there's an unmistakable sense of entropy, as though Motian's answer to the finale's question is an unmistakable "too long." The paradox, then, is that these tired tunes continue to receive periodic resurrections—in spite of and because of retirement parties such as this.

Track Listing: The Last Dance; Tea for Two; In a Shanty in Old Shanty Town; Never Let Me Go; Never Let Me Go (2); Folks Who Live on the Hill; Everything Happens to Me; Last Night When We Were Young; Born to be Blue; Brother Can You Spare a Dime; I Loves You Porgy; You're Getting to be a Habit with Me; How Long Has This Been Going On.

Personnel: Paul Motian: drums; Chris Potter: saxophone; Larry Grenadier: bass; Masabumi Kikuchi, piano; Rebecca Martin: vocals.

Title: On Broadway, Vol. 4: Or The Paradox of Continuity | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Winter & Winter


comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Day After Day CD/LP/Track Review Day After Day
by John Eyles
Published: July 21, 2017
Read We Know Not What We Do CD/LP/Track Review We Know Not What We Do
by Glenn Astarita
Published: July 21, 2017
Read Slade Alive! CD/LP/Track Review Slade Alive!
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 21, 2017
Read Hope CD/LP/Track Review Hope
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 21, 2017
Read The Better Angels of Our Nature CD/LP/Track Review The Better Angels of Our Nature
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 20, 2017
Read What Brought You Here? CD/LP/Track Review What Brought You Here?
by Troy Dostert
Published: July 20, 2017
Read "Chant" CD/LP/Track Review Chant
by Nicola Negri
Published: December 25, 2016
Read "Live in Sant'Anna Arresi 2004" CD/LP/Track Review Live in Sant'Anna Arresi 2004
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 13, 2016
Read "The Wild" CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "Tipico" CD/LP/Track Review Tipico
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 7, 2017
Read "Blind Curves and Box Canyons" CD/LP/Track Review Blind Curves and Box Canyons
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 4, 2017
Read "My Tongue Crumbles After" CD/LP/Track Review My Tongue Crumbles After
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 1, 2017

Support All About Jazz: MAKE A PURCHASE  

Support our sponsor

Upgrade Today!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.