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Ideas are seeds of invention and when progressive artists Eivind Opsvik (bass) and Jacob Sacks (piano) pondered how cool it would be to perform with master drummer Paul Motian, the idea for Two Miles A Day was planted. Violinist Mat Maneri was added to this fertile ground, and the result is a recording representing music that cerebral, inquisitive, and uninhibited by conventionality.
Though the material was written by either Opsvik or Sacks, this is a complete group effort. The quartet exchanges acoustic ideas that are rife with expectancy, taking things into freer territories covering many shapes and contours, all of which are interesting examples of modern composition.
Intricately balanced, like performers on a tightrope, each musician pulls and pushes the limits of their instruments and each other. The throbbing bass-line of "Ha!" supports Maneri and Sacks' eccentric solos. On the atmospheric "As We Know It," the brooding bowed strings of Opsvik and Maneri along with Sacks' delicate ivory touches are carried by the gentle taps of Motian's drums. Or take the free swinging "Playing With Blocks," cooked under a controlled, heated groove. And that's just the first three cuts.
If there was any question about the "old man's" abilities, Motian confounds them. Performing masterfully, adding splashes of colordelicately, forcefully, precisely with perfect touchas heard in his unique playing on the Thelonious Monk-ish tune "Funny Shoes." The younger members also have something to say. Their abilities are clearly imaginative, filled with empathy on the bucolic "Twelve Days" and the expansiveness of "Savile Row," a stylish free form piece that sings as Sacks and Opsvik swing joyfully with Motian.
Some ideas never reach fruition or seldom work out as planned. This one did and here's hoping more turn out like Two Miles A Day.
Track Listing: Ha!; As We Know It; Playing With Blocks; Two Miles A Day; Evening Kites; Bridge And Tunnel; Funny Shoes; Gray Plaid; Simple Song; Twelve Days; Savile Row.
Personnel: Jacob Sacks: piano; Eivind Opsvik: bass; Mat Maneri: violin, viola; Paul Motian: drums.
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.