Friday, October 24, 2008

Paul Motian - Conception Vessel (ECM 1973, 2008)

Drummer and composer Paul Motian first came to the public's attention as a member of the great Bill Evans trio in the late 1950's. By the time he began to record as a leader with this disc, he had developed a unique idea of what the role of a drummer would be. On this album, he is joined on various performances by Charlie Haden on bass, Keith Jarrett on piano, Sam Brown on guitar, and on the final track, Leroy Jenkins on violin and Becky Friend on flute. The music is consistently subtle and interesting. Two tracks are with the trio of Motian, Haden and Brown, "Georgian Bay" is a very intricate acoustic performance, and "Rebica" is a more expansive electric performance bordering on abstract jazz fusion. Two duets between Motian and Jarrett are included, "American Indian: Song of Sitting Bull" is a brief interlude with Jarrett playing flute, while "Conception Vessel" has him on piano playing very well on a song reminiscent of the music the two of them made as part of Jarrett's "American" quartet. The final track, "Inspiration from a Vietnamese Lullaby" is an extraordinary performance with Jenkins and Friend swirling around each other over an ever shifting backdrop of bass and drums. This was a well balanced and refined album of mostly understated jazz. It rewards concentration and thoughtful listening.

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