Saturday, November 26, 2011

Paul Motian (1931-2011)

The legendary jazz drummer, Paul Motian, died on November 22nd.  He was best known for his time in Bill Evans' great trio, from 1959-1964, along with Scott LeFaro and then Chuck Israels on bass.  He later played with Keith Jarrett, most notably in Jarrett's 1970s quartet which featured Dewey Redman on saxophone and Charlie Haden on bass.  Motian worked with other noteworthy musicians from Thelonious Monk to Joe Lovano, and was a composer and leader in his own right.  According to Ben Ratliff, Motian was "one of the most influential jazz musicians of the last 50 years."

As jazz critic Nat Hentoff observed: "Anybody who was the drummer for pianist Bill Evans was absolutely someone who did more than keep the jazz time, which means keeping the pulse of the music."  Motian was "a very inventive, subtle, lyrical melodist" and he and Evans "both were masters at harmonic inventiveness."


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