Paul Motian (1931–2011) wrote and recorded more than 100 original compositions during his long career as a drummer and bandleader. And he shared his tunes, notable for their singable melodies and rhythmically ambiguous forms, freely with his bandmates. One of those former bandmates is pianist Russ Lossing, who collaborated with Motian on several pieces in the drummer's oeuvre. Lossing's standing trio of 20 years with bassist Masa Kamaguchi and drummer Billy Mintz pays homage to Motian and his compositional concepts on this new recording of 10 Motian originals. The music is by turns fluid and disjointed, booming and delicate, insistent and reflective. On this captivating recording, Lossing and company do a stellar job of illuminating the bare essence of Motian's idiosyncratic writing.
- Downbeat M agazine
What you might not know is that, as a young man, he studied with the avant-garde composer John Cage and what I did not remember until reading the liner notes of his new recording, "Motian Music" (Sunnyside), was his long and close relationship with drummer and composer Paul Motian. The drummer would invite him up to his New York City apartment to help work on his compositions plus recorded several excellent albums as a sideman with the pianist. This tribute is a follow-up to Lossing's 2012 solo exploration of the late Motian's music "Drum Music" (also on Sunnyside). For the new album, Lossing works alongside his rhythm section of the past two decades, bassist Masa Kamaguchi and drummer Billy Mintz.
The intimacy of the music is underscored by the fact that the trio recorded in the same room and that each piece was recorded in one take. That can only happen if there is great trust among the participants as well as an intimate knowledge of the material. Listen as the trio wends its way through "Jack of Clubs", swings heartily on "Fiasco" and "Dance", and gently moves through "Introduction" (a piece from 1985's "It Should Have Happened Here", the first trio effort by Motian, guitarist Bill Frisell, and saxophonist Joe Lovano). Kamaguchi has a deep bass sound and a great melodic sense while Mintz plays in the tradition of Motian, never overdoing anything, at times quiet as can be, and with excellent work on the cymbals.
"Motian Music" closes with the whisper-soft "Psalm" a piece so quiet at the outset one has to lean into the speakers. Soon, you can make out a melody from the piano as the bass plays a slow counter-point. The drums and cymbals color the piece as the music floats forward. The sounds seem to hang in the air, like early morning clouds on a Spring morning awaiting the sunrise. A glorious ending to a splendid album of music. Russ Lossing's love and respect for Paul Motian the man and composer shines through every track - the listener is the beneficiary and, honestly, in these days of uncertainty and daily unkindness, one needs this music.
Russ Lossing has been part of the New York jazz scene since 1986. Lossing played with drummer Paul Motian over a period of
12 years and was a member of the Paul Motian Quintet which played week long gigs at the Village Vanguard in New York. He has 18 CDs as leader and is featured on over 50 other CDs as sideman and collaborator with world acclaimed jazz musicians.