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Straight No Chaser - A Jazz Show

Welcome to Straight No Chaser, the Award-winning Podcast hosted by Jeffrey Siegel

Mar 16, 2013

“Paul was one of a kind: a musicians' drummer who thought about the music, not just the rhythm, and cast his own sound on everything he played... he could play anything, and with anybody." -Keith Jarrett

Symphony Space in Manhattan will be presenting an all-star cast of jazz greats on March 22, coming together to pay tribute to their colleague, legendary drummer and composer, the late Paul Motian, voted number one in the 2012 Downbeat Critics Poll Hall of Fame. One of the most influential jazz musicians of the 20th century, Motian played with Joe Lovano, Bill Frisell, Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, Paul Bley, and many other bandleaders, including Lee Konitz, Warne Marsh, Mose Allison, Tony Scott, Stan Getz, and Johnny Griffin.

The concert, curated by Bill Frisell and Joe Lovano features members of Paul Motian's distinguished ensembles, such as the early 1980's Quintet, his longstanding trio with Frisell and Lovano, the Electric Bebop Band, Tethered Moon, and Trio 2000. They reunite to play his music as well as perform in solos, duos, trios, quartets, quintets and larger ensembles, with repertoire and program order to be announced. Joshua Jackson, host of "The Checkout" on WBGO, will serve as MC for the evening.

Among the musicians confirmed as performing will be Andrew Cyrille, Ben Monder, Ben Street, Bill Frisell, Billy Drewes, Billy Hart, Chris Cheek, Ed Schuller, Ethan Iverson, Jakob Bro, Joe Lovano, Joey Baron, Larry Grenadier, Mark Turner, Masabumi Kikuchi, Petra Haden, Steve Cardenas,  Greg Osby, Gary Peacock, Matt Wilson, Ravi Coltrane and Tony Malaby. Joe Lovan describes the event as "an evening of celebration for one of the true Jazz Masters of our times. As an innovative drummer, composer, collaborator, and band leader, Paul Motian has inspired all of us who have encountered his magic to be as honest and expressive as possible in our music. The program will feature various ensembles that Paul put together through the years with some of the most creative musicians on the scene today. We will explore some of his timeless compositions as well as other tunes he loved to play. This not is not to be missed; it will live on as part of his amazing story and legacy."

I spoke at length with Joe Lovano about what his memories of Paul Motian, and about the special evening he has helped plan in his old friend’s memory. Podcast 340 is dedicated to the music of Paul Motian, including the following selections from his recorded history:

Keith Jarrett – “Mortgage on My Soul” from Birth. The “American Quartet’ was one of Jarrett’s mainstays in the 1970’s. That group – Jarrett on piano, sax and percussion; Dewey Redman on sax and percussion; Charlie Haden on bass and percussion and Motian on drums and percussion – released thirteen recordings for various labels over a short five year period.

Joe Lovano – “Six and Four” from Joyous Encounter.  Lovano spoke warmly of his days with the quartet of him on sax, Motian on drums, George Mraz on bass and Hank Jones on piano. Check the tasty way Motian ends the track with his drums.

Paul Motian Band – “White Magic” from Psalm. Check out Lovano’s story of a performance he, Bill Frisell and Paul Motian had in then-Yugoslavia and what it said to him about Paul’s intelligence and maturity as a player. This was Frisell’s “big break” album, having been recommended to Motian by Pat Metheny when the latter could not make a date.

Paul Motian, Joe Lovano and Bill Frisell – “This Nearly Was Mine” from Time and Time Again.  Motian was the consummate New York drummer, and he had a strong affinity for Broadway scores. Here the trio takes a gentle but moving approach to a Rodgers and Hammerstein classic from South Pacific.

Paul Motian Electric Be-Bop Band – “Split Decision” from Reincarnation of a Love Bird. Motian never shied away from unusual ensembles, and this band, which featured two saxophones (Chris Potter and Chris Cheek) and two electric guitars (Kurt Rosenwinkel and Wolfgang Muthspiel), shows Motian’s ability to choose great band members and write great songs. Motian anchors the rhythm section with Don Alias on percussion, and Steve Swallow on electric bass,

Jim Hall, George Mraz, Lewis Nash and Joe Lovano – “Border Crossing” from Grand Slam.  This 2000 release was recorded live at the Regattabar in Boston. After a number of year’s hiatus, the group will play a series of dates in early May of this year at Blues Alley in Washington, D.C.  

Venue: Symphony Space Location 2537 Broadway New York, NY  Phone 212-864-5400