Monday, March 08, 2010

Paul Motian, Chris Potter and Jason Moran - Lost in a Dream (ECM, 2010)

Drummer Paul Motian is one of the most enigmatic musicians in jazz. Whether as a leader or a sideman, his percussive work is instantly recognizable for its graceful spaciousness and the sense of mystery that his playing and composing revels in. That sense of space and mystery is on excellent display here with Motian in a collaboration with Chris Potter on tenor saxophone and Jason Moran on piano. The music is primarily focused on ballads and all three musicians play with great restraint and conviction throughout. The hushed late night vibe that runs through the album (recorded live at The Village Vanguard in New York City in February of 2009) begins with "Mode IV" which is spare and open, the music getting a spacious and lonely feel with Motian's light percussion whispering and Moran's probing piano. "Casino" also opens slowly with piano and drums, before Potter enters with saxophone that is expansive and reverent, almost hymnal. "Blue Midnight" has deeply yearning saxophone and lush piano chords, Potter's saxophone tumbles over gentle piano and drums in a majestic improvisation. Irving Berlin's "Be Careful It's My Heart" in the only cover on the album, and it is a beautiful set piece, a gently caressed ballad. The second half of the disc becomes a little more energetic, with Motian switching from brushes to drumsticks, even taking a lengthy solo on "Abacus." They return to the hushed ambiance of a lullaby on "Cathedral Song." to finish out the album. This was a very impressive album, the group played with great restraint throughout creating a deep and sensuous sound that was very appealing. The spacious and economical way in which the music was organized played to each of the musicians strengths and made for a very powerful performance. Lost in a Dream -

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