Paul Motian (25 March 1931 – 22 November 2011)

One of the great modern American drummers, percussionists and composers, who till the end of his life has been working and touring with his own groups – the Trio with Bill Frisell and Joe Lovano or the Electric Bebop Band.

I had the pleasure of seeing and hearing him with Keith Jarrett (the band featuring Charlie Haden and Dewey Redman) and the Trio with Joe Lovano and Bill Frisell, as well as the Electric Bebop Band, when Wolfgang Muthspiel was one of the guitarists. Always an experience of great music and subtle drumming in support of the soloists.

‘The Reincarnation Of A Love Bird’ would be my favourite record from the Electric Bebop Band, and I really love the one he did with the Muthspiel brothers Wolfgang and Christian plus Gary Peacock: ‘Muthspiel-Peacock-Muthspiel-Motian’.

His work with Charlie Haden is very well documented, but especially the Montreal Tapes are recommended here, where the two have been recorded with various pianists – with Paul Bley, Geri Allen or Gonzalo Rubalcaba). There are of course many more great recordings to mention, but I will finish these recommendations with what might be his last release, the ECM record ‘Live at Birdland’ with Lee Konitz, Brad Mehldau and Charlie Haden.

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