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It’s no secret that drummer-composer-bandleader Paul Motian adores “Monk”. Throughout his recording career, Motian generally manages to squeeze in a Monk number or two. Here, on the latest installment of Motian’s “Electric BeBop Band”, the band perform Monk and Bud Powell compositions as the CD is aptly titled, ..... Play Monk and Powell. Following up his previous release for Winter & Winter, Flight Of The BlueJay, Motian along with the potent frontline of saxophonists Chris Potter and Chris Cheeks and the dual guitar attack of Kurt Rosenwinkel and Steve Cardenas render familiar Monk and Powell compositions as longtime associate, bassist Steve Swallow provides the sturdy bottom.
Swallow’s commanding electric bass pumps up Monk’s “We See” as the ever elusive Motian dances through the rhythms enabling a sense of space and depth. Here and throughout, Cardenas and Rosenwinkel emphasize and accentuate the themes and when called upon, churn in some tasteful solos and textured rhythmic support. Cheeks and Potter man the tenor Saxophones as the four soloists generally alternate or work in tandem. The band perform a soft yet airy version of Bud Powell’s “Keep Loving You” while they swing hard on Monk’s “Brilliant Corners” as the horns and guitars elicit a rather “large sound”, which projects nicely, especially when they work the melodies and themes in unison. The “Electric BeBop Band” are direct and highly charged on Monk’s “Rootie Tootie” while Powell’s “Black Pearl” features the clear toned and dexterous guitar work of Cardenas and Rosenwinkel, effectively recorded and separated via the left and right channels. Again, Motian and Swallow, have some fun with the pulse – as if they were trekking in wide-open terrain, yet the key resides within the often-implied rhythmic structure while maintaining the swinging pulse. The mark of two master rhythmic aces for sure! The men spurt emphatic choruses on Monk’s “San Francisco Holiday” while blasting out an energetic and slightly left-of-center version of Powell’s “Parisian Thoroughfare”.
At 46 ½ minutes in length it may seem like things are just getting started by the time the recording is over; however, many of us are accustomed to the 74-minute capacity of the compact disc. On the other hand the buyer is not always the recipient of 74 “quality” minutes of music, as some artists seem obligated to fill the space in lieu of good material. Not the case here as Motian and co. keep the menu brief and to the point as quality overrides quantity. Short, sweet and to the point! Recommended....* * * ½
Paul Motian: Drums: Steve Swallow; Electric Bass: Chris Cheek; Tenor Sax: Chris Potter; Tenor Sax: Kurt Rosenwinkel; Electric Guitar: Steve Cardenas; Electric Guitar.
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I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.