Motian_span3
May 2007

Paul Motian, Bill Frisell, Joe Lovano
Time and Time Again
ECM Records

Drummer Motian’s long-running trio with Joe Lovano and Bill Frisell is a serendipitous assemblage of complementary personalities. Motian and guitarist Frisell are ingenious colorists: Frisell, a thoughtful melodist whose every note is wrought with expression; Motian, a laconic yet deceptively agile weaver of rhythmic filigree. Saxophonist Lovano is no less concerned with detail, as you hear it in the ever-varying way he inflects his notes and shapes his improvised lines. All three men are preternaturally responsive, each capable of taking the others’ original ideas and making them better. The repertoire here consists of seven Motian originals, a Lovano composition, a show tune and the obligatory—for this group—Monk tune (“Light Blue”). Motian’s tunes in particular give the band the kind of flexible polyrhythmic base they thrive on. Two examples: On “Whirlpool,” the trio shares a sort of shambling, imprecise yet nevertheless exciting sense of forward momentum; on “Onetwo,” Lovano’s and Frisell’s readings of the balladic melody run counter to Motian’s hyperactive, boppish brush work. In each case, the drummer implies infinite possibilities for Frisell and Lovano to seize and exploit—which they do, to inspired ends. Wonderful music by one of the best bands going.

Originally published in May 2007
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