Paul Motian: Time is There All the Time

Scott K Fish

Silver Member
Paul Motian: Time is There All the Time

SKF NOTE: My first awareness of Paul Motian -- which might be different from when I first heard Paul Motian -- was the opening song, Victoria, on his 1974 album Tribute. This haunting, beautiful song written by Paul Motian, is played by guitarists Sam Brown and Paul Metzke, bassist Charlie Haden, and Carlos Ward on alto sax.

Click Here to Listen to Paul Motian's 'Victoria'

This was a period in my life when I was first thinking a jazz drummer's ding-dinga-ding ride cymbal and two-and-four hi-hats were outdated and unnecessarily constricting. I thought it would be great to play drumset with the fluidity of a tenor sax player.

One reviewer of Tribute writes, "Mr. Motian plays the most stretching, elastic, breathing drumming I have ever heard in my life..." That was my reaction on first hearing this album. Motian was one drummer who found a way out of the shackles of ding-dinga-ding and the two-and-four hi-hat.

Then I listened to Keith Jarrett's Byablue album with Paul Motian on drums. The one song I liked -- and I loved the melody - was the title track, composed by Mr. Motian. Today I think the definitive version of Byablue is from the Paul Motian Quintet's Misterioso album with guitarist Bill Frisell.

Click Here to Listen to Keith Jarret's Byablue

Click Here to Listen to the Paul Motion Quintet's Byablue

So when I interviewed Paul Motian for Modern Drummer I was a freelance writer, devouring every jazz book and magazine article I could find. Certainly I was aware of the innovative role of the Bill Evans Trio with Evans on piano, Scott LaFaro on bass, and on drums, Paul Motian. But I'm not sure -- at that time I interviewed Mr. Motian -- I had heard much of that trio's records. My stronger point of reference was Motian's own albums and his work with Keith Jarrett and Carla Bley's Liberation Music Orchestra.

This exchange took place at Paul Motian's New York City apartment circa 1979 or 1980. If you have the original Modern Drummer with this interview, I think it includes one photo I took of Motian on his drumset which, along with his acoustic piano, took up 75-percent of the room we were in.

This is where I ask Paul Motian about what seemed to be the point at which he figured out how to keep time while breaking free from ding-dinga-ding and the two-and-four hi-hat.

Scott K Fish: How did you get that gig [with the Bill Evans Trio]?

Scott K Fish Blog: Life Beyond the Cymbals Click Here to Read Full Paul Motian Interview

Anon La Ply

Interesting. I'm not hearing much time in the clips I can access (some are prohibited for Australians). Not being a jazz expert it just sounds like free jazz to me, only more accessible. Wiki tells me it's post bop, which apparently can incorporate free time approaches.