Reviews that mention Paul Motian

September 17, 2019

Paul Bley/Gary Peacock/Paul Motian

When Will the Blues Leave
ECM 2642

By Ken Waxman

Previously unreleased, this 1999 recital finds pianist Paul Bley (1932-2016), drummer Paul Motion (1931-2011) and bassist Gary Peacock (b. 1935) at the height of their mature mutual powers. This Lugano-recorded set is particularly notable since concentration is on the pianist’s infrequently exposed compositions.

A lively run-through of “Mazation” begins the showcase, as nuanced keyboard strategies pulsate and pause with unexpected sonic detours as a sinewy tandem dialogue is established with Peacock. Meanwhile Motian’s shattered clanks help juice Bley’s unexpected bursts of low-pitched emphasis and swelling timbres which recap the head. Not known for funkiness, Bley still invests “Told You” So with a tranche of walking blues even as he fragments the narrative with bent notes and expansive tonal quivers. The selections also encompass a relaxed, impressionistic and balanced variant of “I Loves You Porgy”, taken at a moderate tempo. As well, the bassist’s subtly low-pitched string swipes and pulls alternate with vigorous, lightening-quick patterning when playing his own “Moor”. MORE

February 6, 2018

Steve Lacy

Free for a Minute (1965-72)
Emanem 5210

Spontaneous Music Ensemble (1968)

Karyobin are the imaginary birds said to live in paradise

Emanem 5046

Hans Reichel (1973)

Wichlinghauser Blues

Corbett vs. Dempsey CvsD CD 033

Roscoe Mitchell (1977)

Duets with Anthony Braxton

Delmark/Sackville SK 3016

Something In The Air: Historical Free Music Documents Reappear on CD

By Ken Waxman

Arguably the most important and least understood sound of the 20th Century, Free Music which combined jazz’s freedom with noted music’s rigour, while aiming for in-the-moment creation has now been around for almost six decades. With its advances now accepted as part of the ongoing sonic landscape, long out-of-print are being reissued and reappraised for their excellence. MORE

December 6, 2014

Artist Feature

Thomas Morgan
By Ken Waxman

Thomas Morgan didn’t have much time for an interview when contacted by TNYCJR. Back in New York for a few days after a couple of months touring overseas with pianist Craig Taborn’s trio and Danish guitarist Jakob Bro’s multi-media quintet, within the week he was off across the Atlantic for most of a month to take the bass spot in two different working bands: drummer Jim Black’s trio and Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stańko’s quartet. Constant touring is just part of life for Morgan, 33, who has been one of the city’s busiest bassist almost since arriving here from his native California 15 years ago. Featured on more than 70 CDs, Morgan honed his skill with as many groups as he can, including those led by veterans such as Japanese pianist Masabumi Kikuchi, drummer Paul Motian and guitarists Bill Frisell. MORE

December 15, 2012

Pharoah Sanders

In the Beginning 1963-64
ESP-Disk ESP-4069

Pierre Favre

Drums and Dreams

Intakt CD 197

Connie Crothers - David Arner

Spontaneous Suite for Two Pianos

Rogueart R0G-037

Various Artists

Echtzeitmusik Berlin

Mikroton CD 14/15/16

Something In The Air: Multiple Disc Sets for the Adventurous

By Ken Waxman

Defying doomsayers who predicted the death of the LP, the CD’s disappearance appears oversold. True music collectors prefer the physical presence and superior fidelity of a well-designd CD package and important material continues to released. Partisans of advanced music, for instance, can choose any one of these sets. The only saxophonist to be part of saxophonist John Coltrane’s working group, tenorist Pharoah Sanders is celebrated for his own highly rhythmic Energy Music. In the Beginning 1963-64 ESP-Disk ESP-4069, a four CD-package highlight his steady growth. Besides Sanders’ first album as leader, very much in the freebop tradition, as part of quintet of now obscure players, the other previously released sounds capture Sanders’ recordings in the Sun Ra Arkestra. More valuable is a CD of unissued tracks where Sanders asserts himself in quartets led by cornetist Don Cherry or Canadian pianist Paul Bley. The set is completed by short interviews with all of the leaders. Oddly enough, although they precede his solo debut, Sanders’ playing is most impressive with Bley and Cherry. With more of a regularized beat via bassist David Izenson and drummer J.C. Moses, Cherry’s tracks advance melody juxtaposition and parallel improvisations with Sanders’ harsh obbligato contrasted with the cornetist’s feisty flourishes; plus the darting lines and quick jabs of pianist Joe Scianni provides an unheralded pleasure. Bley’s economical comping and discursive patterning lead the saxophonist into solos filled with harsh tongue-twisting lines and jagged interval leaps. With Izenson’s screeching assent and drummer Paul Motion’s press rolls the quartet plays super fast without losing the melodic thread. Sun Ra is a different matter. Recorded in concert, the sets include helpings of space chants such as “Rocket #9” and “Next Stop Mars”; a feature for Black Harold’s talking log drums; showcases for blaring trombones, growling trumpets; plus the leader’s propulsive half-down-home and half-outer-space keyboard. Sharing honking and double-tonguing interludes with Arkestra saxists Pat Patrick and Marshall Allen, Sanders exhibits his characteristic stridency. Enjoyable for Sun Ra’s vision which is spectacular and jocular, these tracks suggest why the taciturn Sanders soon went on his own. MORE

August 6, 2012

Masabumi Kikuchi Trio

ECM 2096

Russ Lossing

Drum Music (Music of Paul Motian)

Sunnyside SSC 1319

By Ken Waxman

Although inextricably linked to Bill Evans for his sensitive work in the pianist’s trio of the early ‘60s, drummer Paul Motian (1931-2011) developed his minimalist rhythmic sense earlier in clarinetist Tony Scott’s quartet and extended himself as a band leader and composer from 1972 onwards. Helmed by two pianists of widely divergent ages and backgrounds, these fine CDs celebrate Motian’s contributions as a player and writer. MORE

October 3, 2007

Anat Fort

A Long Story
ECM 1994

Symmetrical and ornamental, Israeli-born pianist Anat Fort’s compositions and playing seem geared more towards the comfort zone of her guests – bassist Ed Schuller, drummer Paul Motian and reedist Perry Robinson – than establishing a unique identity.

Crucial to this arrangement is the drummer, who once piloted the influential combos of Keith Jarrett and Bill Evans. His delicate cymbal taps and perceptive bounces shape the sounds as much as the tyro keyboardist. New York-based for a decade, among other projects, Fort was recently commissioned to create new arrangements of Israeli music. But no Middle Eastern tinges appear on this CD. MORE

March 14, 2005


Time-Space Modulator
Barking Hoop BKH-008

Sunnyside Records SSC 1137

Evolving his improvising from the odd side of convention, while maintaining a healthy respect for tradition, soprano and tenor saxophonist Tony Malaby could be the successor to Joe Lovano in terms of being an all-around, advanced inside player.

Like the older woodwind player, he teaches sax workshops, is on call as a sidemen for many bands as well as his own, interprets standards, jazz and otherwise, as well as writing his own material. Heck, with his girth and beard he could pass for Lovano’s kid brother. MORE

August 9, 2004


Paul Motion in Tokio
Winter & Winter 919 052-2

Preeminently a group drummer, Paul Motian’s solo sessions always seem to find him embedded within the band -- and this one is no exception.

Well-recorded and low-key, the 10 tunes on this reissue of the 1991 IN TOKIO CD are also all of a piece. Leisurely almost to the point of listlessness, the music is most noteworthy for providing a glimpse of saxophonist Joe Lovano and guitarist Bill Frisell before their playing had hardened into their characteristic present day styles.

Frisell especially is a revelation. Rather than employing the phlegmatic countrypolitan licks he uses now, the younger Frisell was more aggressive firing off clipped dynamics and wavering distortion to make his points. At one juncture he breaks time with whammy bar flanging, almost propelling his solo into rock territory. MORE

July 12, 2004


Experiencing Tosca
Winter & Winter 910 093-2

The Current Underneath
Leo CD LR 379

Two approaches to the standard jazz piano trio end up with vastly different results with only one making a major statement.

On THE CURRENT UNDERNEATH, Swiss pianist Michel Wintsch puts aside the sentimental streak that undermined earlier efforts with his Euro-American WHO Trio to create nine slices of thoughtful improvised music. Japanese pianist Masabumi Kikuchi and his two famous American sidemen in Tethered Moon, seems to have picked up all the indolent romanticism cast aside by Wintsch however, making EXPERIENCING TOSCA, a torpid and somewhat lugubrious exercise, more notable for lockstep methodology and top-flight recording sound than a range of emotions. MORE

April 12, 2002


Jazz in Motion JIM 75086

Panoptic Modes
Red Giant RG011

Practically a jazz cliché, the sax and rhythm quartet has been a staple of the music since the late 1940s and early 1950s, when it became the favored compact configuration for modernists to tour from town to town.

Since that time every major improviser, definitely including such iconoclastic figures as John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk and, surprisingly, even Anthony Braxton, David Murray and Evan Parker has played and recorded in that formation from time to time. So the challenge facing someone is how best to adjust the quartet setting to his or her own ends. MORE

August 27, 2001


Winter & Winter 910 063-2

Around the time of tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon's celebrated U.S. homecoming in the mid-1970s, the slogan "Bebop Is the Music of the Future" began to gain currency. In truth, the instrumental mastery, joyful sophistication and ballsy power Gordon and other suddenly-lionized first generation beboppers like Red Rodney, Johnny Griffin and Art Blakey brought to the music exposed the then-fashionable wan fusion as the infantile pabulum that it was.

Most jazz fans welcomed this shot in the arm, little realizing that legions of neo-cons would soon pervert the slogan and use adherence to the so-called tradition as a metaphoric club to beat into submission any musician who continued to play differently. Today, a CD of bop-era standards is as likely to rouse as much excitement as a Swing revival disc by zoot suit wearing newbies. MORE