Friday, November 25, 2011


One of the greatest of jazz drummers passed recently—Paul Motian. I didn't get a chance to post 'til now.

He played with many of the greatest jazz musicians and innovators of our times, like Carla Bley, and had his own groups for many years. But I first discovered him when he was part of The Bill Evans trio that included the legendary bass player Scott LaFaro.

LaFaro tragically died while they were still a trio, in his mid-twenties. Evans died closer to fifty, but still too young. Motian lived to eighty, for which those who loved his work are grateful.

There's no telling how even greater LaFaro might have been had he lived as long as Evans, let alone Motian. We got to see Evans develop into one of the greatest jazz piano innovators ever, way beyond his first record with Motian and LaFaro which I believe was around 1954.

But on those early recordings, we see who LaFaro and Evans and Motian were becoming, already illustrating some of their signature moves, uniquely their own, a sound that would soon become the sound of the late 1950s and early '60s for me captured best in their 1961 LP WALTZ FOR DEBBIE.

Here's Evans, LaFaro and Motian playing the Miles Davis' tune "Milestones" live, just to give you a taste of how original a drummer Motian already was. I love it and am grateful Motian lived so long and left behind so many great recordings that demonstrate his unique artistry:


-K- said...

Perfect music for early dusk in LA.

Somewhere here I have "Waltz For Debby" but because I can't find it, I've just put on Evans' "Portrait in Jazz" which has the same lineup.

So now its gonna be Evans, the current New Yorker (Calvin Tompkins writing about Carl Andre) and coffee as the sun very quickly sets.

Lally said...

Sounds like the start of a perfect evening.