197

Paul Motian: Time and Time Again

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
One sax, one guitar, one set of drums. Who could imagine that such a spare combination could sound so rich, so complete? Drummer Paul Motian's collaboration with guitarist Bill Frisell and saxophonist Joe Lovano is well into its third decade together but, instead of settling into comfortable predictability, Time and Time Again finds the trio continuing to evolve.

The trio's artistic success is all the more uncanny for its avoidance of conventional role playing. Unlike other bass-less trios, where everyone attempts to assume some aspect of the missing instrument's role, this group carves out its own approach where drums are more often a color than a pulse, saxophone as much texture as linear melodism, and the guitar a veritable orchestra (thanks to Frisell's expansive style and seamless integration of looping technology).

That's not to say there isn't time, melody and movement. "Cambodia" unfolds slowly, Motian's cymbals rustling beneath Frisell's real-time layering of spacious pattern and spare lyricism. When Lovano enters at the half-way mark, he circles around Frisell, never meeting in unison but, instead, building an ethereally compelling soundscape.

Improvisation is fundamental, but in a restrained way that emphasizes the sketch-like nature of Motian's writing. Still, pieces like "Whirlpool" have a basis in change, although when Frisell leads into a solo Lovano creates an underscore that's low and visceral rather than suggestive of harmonic movement. The title track has a clear theme and group interaction that's all the lovelier for its near-whisper dynamic.

Motian clearly writes to this trio's strengths. Frisell may speak a more distinct jazz language here than on many of his own projects, but there's a distinctly Americana vibe to "K.T.," while Motian encourages Lovano to subsume his potent delivery in a more nuanced fashion.

Seemingly at odds with the orbital nature of Frisell and Lovano, and more the aural equivalent of an impressionist painter, the rhythm of Motian's occasional displays of greater strength and propulsion only become clear when viewed from a distance.

Between its 1985 ECM debut (It Should Have Happened Long Ago) and 2005 return to the label (I Have the Room Above Her) Motian's trio recorded a number of records for Winter&Winter. As strong as those intervening records are, this trio's rarified and atmospheric approach is ultimately best-suited to the ECM aesthetic. Time and Time Again's implicit nature works because it insists the listener become an active participant in the ongoing process of discovery.


Track Listing: Cambodia; Wednesday; Onetwo; Whirlpool; In Remembrance of Things Past; K.T.; This Nearly Was Mine; Party Line; Light Blue; Time And Time Again.

Personnel: Paul Motian: drums; Bill Frisell: guitar; Joe Lovano: tenor saxophone.

Title: Time And Time Again | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: ECM Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Aqustico vol 2 CD/LP/Track Review Aqustico vol 2
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 25, 2017
Read Lattice CD/LP/Track Review Lattice
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 25, 2017
Read Beginnings CD/LP/Track Review Beginnings
by David A. Orthmann
Published: September 25, 2017
Read Synchronic CD/LP/Track Review Synchronic
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 25, 2017
Read Slægt CD/LP/Track Review Slægt
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 24, 2017
Read An Eye on the Future CD/LP/Track Review An Eye on the Future
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 24, 2017
Read "NJO 40" CD/LP/Track Review NJO 40
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 1, 2017
Read "GIO Sevens" CD/LP/Track Review GIO Sevens
by Duncan Heining
Published: September 2, 2017
Read "Meeting My Shadow" CD/LP/Track Review Meeting My Shadow
by James Nadal
Published: July 22, 2017
Read "Ockeghem Octets" CD/LP/Track Review Ockeghem Octets
by John Eyles
Published: July 14, 2017
Read "Freedom is Space for the Spirit" CD/LP/Track Review Freedom is Space for the Spirit
by Budd Kopman
Published: February 2, 2017
Read "Piano Song" CD/LP/Track Review Piano Song
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 21, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.