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SoundGround >> Paul Motian - R.I.P.


11/22/11 11:20 PM
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Ali
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Edited: 11/22/11 11:27 PM
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This one really has me shaken. It's silly maybe. I never met the man, never got to see one of the shows -- the long runs and New York's Village Vanguard that have been happening every year.

One of the greatest all-time drummers, my favorite band leader of the 80s, and.... right up there ever since. His core trio with Bill Frisell on guitar and Joe Lovano on saxophone has been one of the most consistently surprising and mysterious and psychically connected organisms in music history. High times and low times and times in betewen... for me, for decades now. Since around 1982 at least.

Dude was 80 years old, and not traveling outside of NYC for the last several, so I can't say it was huge surprise.

And I don't now if I'm sharing this with anyone who really knows who he was, or cares much. But this one really got to me.

NY Times obit (which I think should be better, and deeper, but ... at least it was fast) here: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/23/arts/music/paul-motian-jazz-drummer-is-dead-at-80.html
11/28/11 7:40 PM
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Racer X
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 " His core trio with Bill Frisell on guitar and Joe Lovano on saxophone has been one of the most consistently surprising and mysterious and psychically connected organisms in music history."

THIS


11/29/11 7:20 PM
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Racer X
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 Ali, what do you think are the best tunes to check out by this trio?
11/29/11 8:43 PM
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Ali
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Edited: 11/29/11 8:56 PM
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Racer X -- I appreciate so much your "THIS" post -- made me feel slightly less alone in this!

Sadly, my current favorite thing is one you can't find on youtube, but you can hear on Grooveshark (no video). That would be "Yahllah" from "At the Village Vanguard". And it's here: http://grooveshark.com/#/s/Yahllah/DOb0U?src=5 . That one is a slowly built spaceship, so wait till you have 12 minutes to give it a listen!

Motian re-does tunes for different line-ups, or just live albums, so that's why I'm being specific as to which one.

Another one is "It Should Have Happened A Long Time Ago". The version of that on "Trioism" -- which I think should be on youtube. If it's not, the tune "Cosmology" from that record definitely is. Which I like slightly less, but only slightly. Those are both crazy collective improv. (Joshua Redman said in an interview that when he was at Berklee, "It Should Have Happened..." from that record was "the" tune all the jazz students pointed to when they wanted an example of group improvisation with melody, harmony, and rhythm always up for grabs whenever one dude had a "better idea", and how the other two are just immediately on it). Those tunes are very typical of Motian's composing, those long windy head melodies which were so perfect for that band's improv style.


That "Wednesday" you posted is *very* indicative of a lot of what you'll hear on the recod "Bill Evans". Which adds a bass to that trio. Motian was the drummer on the original "Bill Evans Trio" records with Scott LaFaro; the tribute record is very different, because sax and electric guitar in place of piano. So that whole record. For the more noisy side, the whole record "Motian in Tokyo", which is a live trio record.

There are really tons more, but that's a lot already. There are some things Hugo posted on the "Nels Cline" thread (which got semi-hijacked by me into a Bill Frisell thread -- so Motian trio de facto in pointing out some of the things Frisell does).

If you want more, I'll be back. Thanks for asking!
11/29/11 9:29 PM
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Racer X
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 Cool! Brain food! ;)
11/29/11 10:11 PM
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Ali
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Edited: 11/29/11 10:12 PM
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If you're into that stuff, like to listen more than once, you'll probably find it's also heart food, soul food... It's not mostly instant-gratification music, but since you clearly were patient enough for "Wednesday" I think you're not needing that!

I'm still totally bummed he's gone. I've been listening to some of his other stuff this past week, too. Just so I really feel like I'm honoring Motian, as opposed to the other two guys, given his passing. That's ridiculous, I know. I love all those guys, and lots of others he's played with. But that trio (and the larger bands with that trio at the center) has been doing some of my favorite things for decades now. Damn I'm getting old.
11/30/11 12:01 AM
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Racer X
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It's sad when we lose a source of inspiration like that, but we can take comfort in knowing that his contribution is well documented. THAT'S immortality!
12/4/11 10:37 AM
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Ali
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I just found this -- pianist and writer Ethan Iverson wrote this spectactular piece:

http://dothemath.typepad.com/dtm/the-paradox-of-continuity.html
12/16/11 5:08 PM
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hugomma
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Ali - Racer X -- I appreciate so much your "THIS" post -- made me feel slightly less alone in this!

Sadly, my current favorite thing is one you can't find on youtube, but you can hear on Grooveshark (no video). That would be "Yahllah" from "At the Village Vanguard". And it's here: http://grooveshark.com/#/s/Yahllah/DOb0U?src=5 . That one is a slowly built spaceship, so wait till you have 12 minutes to give it a listen!

Motian re-does tunes for different line-ups, or just live albums, so that's why I'm being specific as to which one.

Another one is "It Should Have Happened A Long Time Ago". The version of that on "Trioism" -- which I think should be on youtube. If it's not, the tune "Cosmology" from that record definitely is. Which I like slightly less, but only slightly. Those are both crazy collective improv. (Joshua Redman said in an interview that when he was at Berklee, "It Should Have Happened..." from that record was "the" tune all the jazz students pointed to when they wanted an example of group improvisation with melody, harmony, and rhythm always up for grabs whenever one dude had a "better idea", and how the other two are just immediately on it). Those tunes are very typical of Motian's composing, those long windy head melodies which were so perfect for that band's improv style.


That "Wednesday" you posted is *very* indicative of a lot of what you'll hear on the recod "Bill Evans". Which adds a bass to that trio. Motian was the drummer on the original "Bill Evans Trio" records with Scott LaFaro; the tribute record is very different, because sax and electric guitar in place of piano. So that whole record. For the more noisy side, the whole record "Motian in Tokyo", which is a live trio record.

There are really tons more, but that's a lot already. There are some things Hugo posted on the "Nels Cline" thread (which got semi-hijacked by me into a Bill Frisell thread -- so Motian trio de facto in pointing out some of the things Frisell does).

If you want more, I'll be back. Thanks for asking!

 Thanks Ali, I'll make sure to look up the Mortian links on Grooveshark.  Please come back with more ASAP.  You've turned me to Mortian in small doses on the Cline/Frisell thread, & I'm still processing all of that incredible music.  I look forward to exploring more Mortian.  May he RIP.


12/16/11 10:49 PM
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hugomma
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Need to go watch a chick flick with the wife, but this looks interesting.  Don't have time to listen to it now, but I'll get to it later.

I got a couple of minutes.  More on the way...

12/16/11 10:53 PM
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hugomma
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Paul Motian Trio - Misterioso
12/18/11 4:25 AM
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hugomma
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 ttt for Ali - you've gotta hear some of this stuff if you haven't already.
12/18/11 12:13 PM
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Ali
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Edited: 12/18/11 9:11 PM
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Thanks, Hugo! Those studio recordings I have heard -- I have all the Motian records with those guys (I don't have all of the others, but a bunch of them, too). But yes, for Misterioso (a Monk tune) and Monroe (a Frisell tune). Misterioso is also a title cut from an earlier Motian record, with a quintet. With Frisell, Jim Pepper and Lovano on saxes, and Ed Schuller on bass. Damn those dudes were "young'uns" at that point...., sort of like Blakey, or sort of like Zappa in rock, was a grad-school for genius musicians).

I have not heard, and did not know about, that live/youtube version of "It Should Have Happened..." (a Motian tune!). I still recommend the studio version on Trioism; just better balance/mix, and also a more seductive, less staccato Lovano. But this one is spectacular, too. And being 10 minutes longer, gets to go to some really spectacular places. That interplay right around 4:20 is where it really pulls together into something magic - to my ear, on first listening. {EDIT -- I just listened again, louder, which helped tremendously. This is ALSO just something that sends me. Over the fucking MOON. Thanks so much for hipping me to it. The studio one I posted is a bit less loose, so helps me to "understand" the live one better, where they are less concentratedly-perfect in the improv... but I was wrong about Lovano being "staccato" -- don't know what the hell I was hearing when it wasn't loud enough; and there are more insane ideas in that live version... I'll take EVERY version I've heard of this tune, still. And I'll still start with the one I originally recommended, but.... Holy CHIT that was good}.



Hmmm. I wonder if now that Motian died, people are coming out of the woodwork to post more on youtube. I haven't gone searching yet, but I think they must be. Because I have looked in the past, and didn't see some of this stuff up there.

Much as I love Frisell in all of his wild range, much of my favorite stuff of his was with Motian. Motian's openness in the compositions (which I love... very Ornette-ish in some ways) is just *MADE* for improvisers like Lovano and Frisell. And he's one of those drummers that really makes the drums a "real instrument". He's almost playing like a harmony instrument in accompanying.

I'll come back to this lots more times. And do more looking on youtube, too.
12/18/11 1:05 PM
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Ali
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Yup... fans coming out of the woodwork. This wasn't up until super recently. Just audio, so best listened to with closed eyes and ready to travel away....

The studio version of "It Should Have Happened A Long Time Ago" from Trioism:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JX6joXww-4M
12/18/11 1:07 PM
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hugomma
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...Don't know where to begin with this one...so original, yet so rooted in "traditional" jazz...my god this Lee Konitz...never really listened to him (...my loss).

(...Yes, I'm using as many ellipsis as possible in honor of Motian...)

...Are there moar recordings of this line up?
12/18/11 1:10 PM
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hugomma
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Edited: 12/18/11 1:25 PM
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Ali - Yup... fans coming out of the woodwork. This wasn't up until super recently. Just audio, so best listened to with closed eyes and ready to travel away....

The studio version of "It Should Have Happened A Long Time Ago" from Trioism:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JX6joXww-4M
I cannot allow myself to blow off another workout on account of Bill Frisell & his musical associates, so I'll post this, let this thread go for now, & come back later.

Thanks for sharing, great to see you here again, although I wish it was under different circumstances.
   
12/18/11 1:25 PM
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hugomma
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Edited: 12/18/11 1:27 PM
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Alright, one more: I had to post this. The sound quality's not great, but unbelievable playing. For the the 1st few minutes, you can barely hear Motian, but he picks up volume as it goes on. You can really start to hear (& see him) around 2:28. I only made it to through the 1st piece, but man...I love Bill Evans & can't wait to dive into this.
 
12/18/11 4:08 PM
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Ali
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Edited: 12/18/11 4:34 PM
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Wow.... never knew that footage of the Evans trio existed.

Yeah, Motian with that subtle brushwork, sounds like a rainforest. But swinging. And every so often he's a tsunami (not with Evans, so much). Freaking weather system, that guy.

Motian is the drummer on "THE" Evans-trio records with Scott LaFaro. Waltz for Debbie (my favorite); and Sunday at the Village Vanguard, being the two live ones. An Explorations and Portrait In Jazz being the studio recordings.

There's also a very good, VERY well-recorded and mastered to cd, box set of the full Vanguard gig. 4 discs. (I'm dating myself... I'm so old-fashioned that I still have cd's!)

Lee Konitz: as far as I know, the only official recording of that line-up is "On Broadway vol. 3". Those recordings are all standards, based on Broadway show-tunes, and they're all magical. Very much the product of that band, so not like other versions of standards at all. And yes, rooted very much in "traditional jazz". So check that one out.

Konitz is another genius for sure. He's done A LOT of records, though, and lots of them are not anywhere near as good as the best ones. I'm nothing like expert on his discography, but I've got a handful of things that are mind blowing, and have heard lots of things that I didn't want to buy, too. The recent "Live at Birdland" by Konitz/Mehldau/Haden/Motian is great. No guitars, no Lovano, so not the same thing. But Motian and Konitz together, and I love it.

The "Broadway vol 3" group, live (which is the Motian trio guys, Konitz and with Marc Johnson on bass) - has some videos. This one is just a duet with Konitz and Motian: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZWnQ75Jw6k

Less austere, because it's the full quintet with Konitz, is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQFYEm905XA&feature=related
That one has Frisell's usual genius comping, but his solo comes in at 2:58 or so, if you want to get to that. It's worth waiting, because Lovano's a beast for the first three minutes, though.

All of that is great stuff. Still, my preferences are toward the "trip music" of "It Should Have Happened a Long Time Ago". And Motian's own compositions in general.
12/18/11 7:05 PM
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Ali
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Ok, just found this, never saw this before today, either:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9Rp6pDuf3c&feature=related


That's the Motian quintet with Konitz, again. First couple minutes are just Konitz with Frisell comping. Then at around 2 minutes Frisell solo for a good while, with Motian looking on like a Buddha statue. Tune ends with the duet again. Then an other tune at 4:35 with the full band. Cool as hell.

Still again, "standards". So take that for what it's worth. I'm still more interested in you hearing "It Should Have Happened..." first.
12/18/11 11:11 PM
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hugomma
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Ali,

Had a few minutes, blew off the other clips (for now), & went straight for "It Should Have Happened a Long Time Ago".

That part between 0:00 - 8:48 was amazing. I just didn't like the part at 8:48...

In all seriousness 4:23 - 4:35...wow, whatever the hell chords those were...strange, haunting...beautiful...How does anyone hear something like that & then improve it on the spot?

5:07 - 5:44...those long, sustained melodies, followed by that low drone (at 1st I couldn't tell if it was a distorted guitar or sax, but it re-appears around 6:48 - 7:09 under Lovano's solo)...and the quite, subtle intensity of Mortian underneath it all.

Your rainforest/tsunami description of Mortian's drumming is right on, as always...from the little bit that I've heard, his compositions remind of of a spaced out Philip Glass/Brian Eno love dropping his load in Ornette Coleman's abortion...subtle, intense, & mind-bending all at once.

I'll work my way back to the others, but please post MOAR if you find anything. I'll be on the lookout as well.

Good to see you again my fren.
12/18/11 11:45 PM
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Ali
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Edited: 12/19/11 12:06 AM
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I was about to say there's not tons more... and there isn't... but there's more going up all the time, I see things that weren't there this afternoon. Excerpts from some of the best albums; unfortunately not necessarily the one or two tunes I would pick, but still...

This one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TxZSx3GEzKE&feature=related Just beauty.

And from the super-highly recommended "Motian in Tokyo" record... this thing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6w6p7HvpGU&feature=related

Or for more noisy/abstract, still, this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNEjBwIFVUw&feature=related . Listen to that damn thing, especially what Motian is DOING during Frisell's big SKRONK solo. It's not a solo, it's a duet, really. Even if it is a guitar solo. Motian's just ridiculously good.


Both those albums are supremely highly recommended. Some other tunes might show up. That first one is the record that has the version of "Yahllah" I'm so into -- and still, you can go to grooveshark to hear it, at least, if not share it here.

By the bye, I still recommend listening to "It Should Have Happened..." more times, louder. Because you pointed out things where Frisell does amazing up-front stuff, but you'll hear more and more mind-blowing subtleties with that for a good long time. I still do, and I've listened to it two hundred times. (Or at least I get surprised by things that seem new, because I forgot...) The stuff that blows me away the most on that tune aren't the more obvious "solo" sections -- though I love every damn second of it, too.
12/20/11 12:40 AM
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hugomma
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Ali,

I get the sense there's lots of layers to peel back before you can really digest this stuff. Still, what I have noticed is quite the revelation. It was just a couple of months ago that I 'got' Frisell. This is like Frisell cubed.

Trying to listen to this, but the family's asleep & I can't blast it right now. I'll have time in the next few days during vacation. Looking forwad to it.
12/20/11 12:42 AM
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hugomma
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Just got to skim the 1st few minutes of this one...wow...it's like the soundtrack to a lucid dream.
12/20/11 12:47 AM
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hugomma
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Didn't make it to Frisell's solo yet, but I love the comping & rhythmic insanity behind Lovano's solo, not to mention Lovano's solo - especially when Frisell drops out & it's just Motian & Lovano. I'm saving Frisell for later...
12/20/11 10:56 AM
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Ali
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I can embed this one, myself, I think. I got the code from Lovano's site -- this is what Lovano put up on his little Motian "tribute"/goodbye blog. It's a standard. A warhorse, really. "Body and Soul":


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