Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Paul Motian

I haven't tried to tally it up, but I may have written more about Paul Motian's music on this blog than any other subject. Before I moved to New York City, I'd heard him on records but it wasn't until I saw him live a couple times that I really got hooked on his music. Writing about it was a way of trying to understand what made me keep coming back (I tried to see at least one set whenever Motian played a week at the Vanguard). While I'm very sad I won't be able to see him play anymore, I plan to continue picking up his records and others that he played on (his latest, Windmills of My Mind, and Bill McHenry's Ghosts of the Sun will probably be the next ones I get), and I'll keep trying to get to the bottom of why his music has such a hold on me.

Here are links to my Motian-related posts. Looking back, a lot of the writing is not so hot (and my thoughts on Motian are sometimes followed by reviews of bakeries?!), and I don't think I really got to the bottom of what appeals to me so much about the sound world Motian was able to create each time he stepped onstage (or into a recording studio), but these pieces are interesting to me at least as a scrapbook of the man whose music enriched my life over the past few years:

Trio 3 in 1 (w/ Jason Moran and Chris Potter) from the week they recorded Lost in a Dream
A quote I really love from an interview with Motian
Motian-Lovano-Frisell in 2009
Motian plays in the Fred Hersch Trio - a meeting of two of my absolute favorites
An anomaly for one of Motian's records
A Motian-related dream
On Motian's many great collaborations w/ Charlie Haden on piano trio records
Jakob Bro and Tim Berne records w/ Motian on drums
the fabulous Motian Soul Note box set
my Best Live Music of 2010 features a couple of Motian gigs
Quintet w/ Bill McHenry
a spectacular three-week run at the Vanguard w/ three different groups
Motian's New Trio w/ Jerome Sabbagh and Ben Monder

I didn't get around to writing about the last time I saw Motian play, with Greg Osby and Masabumi Kikuchi, during what turned out to be the last of his many, many weeklong engagements at the Village Vanguard. The combo of Motian and Kikuchi was strong stuff, and Osby could mix it up with them on the same high plane. At the end of the set, which must've been profoundly disorienting for anyone in the audience who only knew Motian from his early work with Bill Evans, I remember Motian smiling, looking really pleased, as the last note was struck and he took the mic to introduce his fellow musicians. I don't know if he knew his time as a performer was coming to an end, but there was no doubt that he was having fun.

Check out some far better writing on Motian from Ethan IversonJerome Sabbagh and a beautiful remembrance from photographer John Rogers. I'm sure many more tributes will continue rolling in.

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