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Portland Jazz Festival: A Celebration of ECM

Snug Harbor sounded just a bit different this night. In tribute to jazz giant, drummer and composer Paul Motian, the music took a direction less traveled in the Crescent City. While New Orleans’ modern jazz mecca changes faces and attitudes nightly, drummer Johnny Vidacovich, saxophonist Ed Petersen and guitarist Brian Seeger awakened the audience to another point of view by presenting Motian’s work as well as evoking his approach to the music.

Motian fans were easy to please. Hearing his music live is a rarity. Hearing it played by these guys, all of whom are admirers and hugely capable, was just a treat. The format was typical Motian: drums, guitar and sax. That this group could lure in and hold onto a crowd that ranged from locals to tourists-undoubtedly sent to the Frenchmen street club by hotel concierges-boasts the strength of the honoree and that of the musicians. A repertoire that mixed Motian’s compositions, including the bebop he often turned to plus some original material, can be credited for many listeners staying for both of the hour- and-a-half sets. It was out, it was in; it remained stimulating and accessible.

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