Joel Harrison has the right idea: When assembling a tribute to Paul Motian’s compositions, don’t use any percussion. No drummer colors a performance quite like Motian, so it’s better to focus all the attention on his other talent. From there Harrison takes the idea even further by arranging Motian’s music for a string quartet of players who can think outside the charts-violinists Christian Howes and Sam Bardfeld, cellist Dana Leong and alternating violists Mat Maneri and Peter Ugrin-to which he adds his and Liberty Ellman’s guitars. The 10 pieces, along with two others closely associated with the drummer, succeed because Harrison gets inside of these already fascinating structures and translates them to another context.
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