Thursday, February 3, 2011

Paul Motian - Monk in Motian

1. This is one of the best Frisell, Lovano, Motian records that they've done - and probably will do. Hard to believe they could swing so hard without a bass player in the line up. Lovano has NEVER sounded better, Frisell is his usual amazing self - and Motian lights up the skins like it's his last recording. Great recording all the way around...!

2. If you happen to catch the Paul Motian/Bill Frisell/Joe Lovano trio in concert, it's a near-certainty that you'll hear them play a Monk tune or two. Motian's trio and quintet had recorded a few Monk tunes on their previous albums (One Time Out, Misterioso) so an only-Monk album made a lot of sense. The basic trio of Motian, Frisell and Lovano is augmented by pianist Geri Allen and tenor saxophonist Dewey Redman on two tracks apiece. It's interesting to hear Allen interacting with the trio -- this is the only one of their albums to include any piano. Redman was a big influence on Lovano, so it's occasionally difficult to distinguish between them.

Unlike the On Broadway albums, the tunes here are taken relatively "straight" -- that is, except for the screaming electric guitar and the lack of a bass. It's fun to hear Monk tackled in this way. Aside from the ballad "Ugly Beauty", most of the tunes are fairly well-known Monk. I think the version of "Epistrophy" here isn't as good as the one on the trio's live album Sound of Love. You're also going to have to pick up Sound of Love for the trio's signature Monk tune, "Misterioso", which isn't included on Monk in Motian.

Overall, this album is recommended for fans of this trio's music. People who dislike noisy electric guitar might instead check out the three volumes of On Broadway and the Bill Evans tribute. However, the group has better recordings than this one.

(Random amazon users...)


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