Essential Paul Motian
J. Rich | 07/19/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Paul Motian's "On Broadway, Volume 1" released on JMT (which is now Winter & Winter) in 1989 is one of the best albums in Motian's long and varied career. Paul Motian, for those who do know, is the drummer who played in Bill Evans' trio on such legendary albums like "Waltz For Debbie," "Sunday Afternoon At The Village Vanguard," and "Portrait In Jazz" to name a few. Motian has also recorded two more "On Broadway" sessions for Winter & Winter and are all worth checking out.
Motian is joined by guitarist Bill Frisell, saxophonist Joe Lovano, and bassist Charlie Haden. Anyone who is familiar with jazz knows that all of these players are monster musicians that are fully capable at handling anything that comes their way. I think the musician that really shines here and on all of these "On Broadway" sessions is Bill Frisell. Hearing his own solo albums and then listening to him on these sessions is really amazing. He's most definitely one of the most versatile guitarists in jazz. Whether he is playing straight jazz, avant-garde, or progressive jazz, Bill plays with a totally different vocabulary in every musical situation. Hearing him tackle these jazz standards and breathing new life into them with his innovative chord voicings and improvisations has been both inspiring and influential to me. Now, I'm not saying that the other musicians here are slouches, because Motian, Haden, and Lovano are some of the most distinguished players in jazz, but I just think that if Frisell hadn't played on these albums, then none of them would've turned out the same way and this could certainly be bad considering that Motian has released some not so good albums in his career. Anytime Frisell and Lovano play with Motian, I drop what I'm doing and check it out immediately.
Having said all of that, this music is fantastic. I never heard such fresh takes on jazz standards. One thing I love is that Motian approaches every song in a unique way. I've always loved the way Motian arranges music. I think he's one of the true masters when it comes to his attention to detail, but also for his ability to play what's only necessary.
As with any music, it should truly speak for itself. I can use words like awesome, amazing, etc., but that really doesn't do the music justice. Let your ears be the judge, but I can honestly say that these "On Broadway" albums, in particular Volumes 1 and 2, are some of the finest examples of what a great group of creative musicians can do with jazz standards."