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Paul Motian: Flight of the Blue Jay

The veteran rhythm section here, drummer Motian and bassist Steve Swallow, is joined by four relatively young musicians, guitarists Brad Schoeppach and Kurt Rosenwinkel and tenor saxmen Chris Potter and Chris Cheek. The 11 selections include three compositions by Thelonious Monk, one apiece by Bud Powell, George Shearing, and Miles Davis, and Richard Rodgers’ “Blue Room.”

The style employed by Motian’s band here isn’t exactly straight bop or post bop-there are later influences-but it’s close enough to wonder why he formed it. He’s old enough to have played the music in the early ’50s, but his contribution to jazz had to do with moving away from it.

Schoeppach, Potter, and Cheek are gifted, knowledgeable musicians who perform very well, but they’re heard to far better advantage when they play in today’s avant garde settings. Maybe Motian enjoys playing bop. That’s fine and this is a nice album, but it’s among his least significant.

Originally Published