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Selected Recordings

Paul Motian
Barcode 0044001420429

Original price £12.61 - Original price £12.61
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Release Date: 26/01/2004

Edition: Album
Genre: General
Sub-Genre: tbc
Label: ECM
Number of Discs: 1
Duration: 71 minutes

:rarum is ECM's inspired anthology series for which the musicians are given complete editorial freedom to choose their own favourite performances for everyone from the novice to informed and passionate fans of the label. By involving the artists in devising the project, each of these anthologies reflects the character of its maker. This is the music they want the listener to hear, and they explain why in their liner notes.

"The music speaks for itself. It was recorded 20-30 years ago and, listening to it recently, the passage of time seemed non-existent." The immensely subtle American-Armenian drummer Paul Motian became a bandleader and a composer with the encouragement of ECM. Here he revisits collaborations with Keith Jarrett and Paul Bley, and showcases his exceptional early trios with Charles Brackeen and the late great bassists David Izenzon and Jean-François Jenny-Clark, as well as his still ongoing group with Joe Lovano and Bill Frisell.

Since 1969, ECM albums have been acclaimed for outstanding music, creative production and exceptional sound quality. Many of the musicians embraced by the :rarum series are amongst the most important improvisers of our era. The richness and diversity of their work on ECM continues to resonate and has changed the way jazz is heard today.

The :rarum series builds into a superlative "library" of jazz on ECM. The first eight :rarum anthologies were released, to international acclaim, in 2002: "It's over 30 years since the first ECM recording was made and under the stewardship of Manfred Eicher's astute musical sensibilities a catalogue of some 800 recordings has accumulated some of the finest jazz recorded during the second half of the 20th century. Selected by the artists themselves, the :rarum series is of enormous importance in revealing the breadth of each artist's work, as much for the converted as the unconverted looking for a window into the remarkable ECM catalogue." - Stuart Nicholson, BBC Music Magazine

Unlike some of the musicians who've been the subject of ECM's :rarum collections, Paul Motian's output for the label doesn't really provide any definite overview of his career, which has taken in stints with Keith Jarrett, Lennie Tristano, Bill Evans, Paul Bley and, er, Arlo Guthrie. In Motian's case you'd probably need a box set (at the very least) for that job.

It was ECM's Manfred Eicher who persuaded the drummer to try his hand at composition, and this set documents his various outings as bandleader. Through his debut for the label featured Jarrett, subsequent albums were piano-less. Maybe this was a consequence of a desire to break away from his associations with great ivory tinklers (see above); plus Motian's first instrument was the guitar, which may explain his adoption of players like the underrated Paul Metzke and the overrated Bill Frisell.

Motian's writing is sparsely pretty; folky almost, with echoes of Jarrett, Ornette Coleman and Monk. His melodies sidle up to you and breathe gently in your ear, much like early Carla Bley. "Folk Song For Rosie" is a fine example, with Charles Brackeen's luscious soprano wrapping itself around Motian's gently meandering tune. In later groups Joe Lovano's blurry tenor would give the drummer's themes a magisterial weight coupled with a sly playfulness; with the longstanding trio of Frisell and Lovano, Motian's music maybe found its ideal interpreters, but the early records have a sweetly astringent feel to them.

Motian's drumming refuses to restrict itself to mere timekeeping. His slightly awkward snare figures punctuate and accelerate, shadowing the contours of the melody at every turn. Without a bass (as in the trio or the hushed melancholia of the Paul Bley group) the kit takes on melodic duties too, as Motian restricts himself to occasional, hushed cymbal caresses or faint wisps of brushed snare.

Motian's body of work outside ECM is just as impressive, but this album is a timely reminder of the pleasures of his early music and in particular the magical, poised interplay he shared with Bley, Frisell and Lovano. A good place to start. --Peter Marsh

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