Paul Motian Band

By JON GARELICK  |  January 30, 2006
3.0 3.0 Stars
GARDEN OF EDEN No all-over blowing session hereThe latest from the septuagenarian drum master closely follows last year’s near-perfect I Have the Room Above Her, with Joe Lovano and Bill Frisell. This time out, Motian has a septet of two tenors (Chris Cheek and Tony Malaby), three guitars (Steve Cardenas, Ben Monder, Jakob Bro), and bass (Jerome Harris). If that suggests a hellacious all-over blowing session, forget about it. These 14 pieces (only two of them more than five minutes long) swing with sublime quietude, lucid. They’re detail-filled miniatures, always focused on melody and ensemble balance, guitar and sax lines gently overlapping, everyone forceful but no one feeling the need to shout. (Only Motian comes close — in a succinct, ebullient drum solo on Monk’s “Evidence.”). Meanwhile there are the tunes, starting with the opening, mournful, rich horns on Mingus’s “Pithecanthropus Erectus” and then his classic “hit single,” “Goodbye Porkpie Hat.” There’s a handful of gem-like Motian originals, Cheek’s Middle Eastern dirge “Desert Dream,” Jerome Kern’s “Bill,” Charlie Parker’s “Cheryl.” Even when he’s at his airiest, Motian’s meals never leave you hungry.
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