Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Misterious Motian

If you have a neck injury, and you like jazz, put on the brace and listen to Paul Motian's album Misterioso. The brace will come in handy when the second number opens up, and if you don't have a neck injury, you might get one.

Drummer Paul Motian (pronounced, if you didn't get it, like motion) has had a life. He won fame and (I hope) fortune with the Bill Evans Trio. It is no small thing to be part of the Evans Village Vanguard recordings. Since that time he has laid down the beat for a lot of modern jazz, across a wide range of jazz styles.

Misterioso is a fine example of his range and flexibility. Jim Pepper plays tenor and soprano sax. Joe Lovano is also on tenor, which whets my interest as I saw him play in Sioux Falls. Bill Frisell plays guitar, and there is a powerful fusion influence. But I run into a mystery here. iTunes lists Alex Lodico, trombone player, but he isn't on the Penguin guide notes about the album. Maybe someone out there can fill me in.

Anyway, the album begins with a pure bop working of Monk's 'Misterioso'. It's delicious. And the next song, 'Abicus', is altogether fusion in presentation. Hence the whiplass. The rest of the album is most fusionesque. Go to your local jazz store and ask for it. Tell 'em I sent you.

Here is the opening number for a taste:
Paul Motian/Misterioso/Misterioso
For comparison, here is the same composition from Monk's own Misterioso. The showcase here is Johnny Griffin's tenor. It is very exciting to hear Monk's voice as he goads Griffin to new fronts. Monk, as always, is brilliant. If you don't have Monk's Misterioso, for heaven's sake log on and get it.
Thelonious Monk/Misterioso/Misterioso


  1. Ken (if I may)~ I wanted to drop a line to say I'd discovered your blog and that it is terrific. It seems that our musical tastes overlap to a remarkable degree (as much, if not more, than our political views diverge). I think your view about the importance of jazz of the mid-50s to mid-60s is spot on. I think Paul Motian is priceless. And the posts on Marion Brown/Mal Waldron and David Murray made me want to go right out and track down the discs too. Thanks!

    On top of that, it is nice to find another political scientist over the age of 35 out blogging. Keep it up. Jim Johnson

  2. Jim:

    Your comment made my day. As for our political views, that is what a republic is for! As for jazz, this music fills out my soul, and blogging about it is all the more fun. If you like this blog, make a comment from time to time. That keeps me going.

    I think David Murray is one of the great unappreciated geniuses of modern jazz. I do what I can to remedy that. That Marion Brown/Mal Waldron disc is delicious. Don't let it get by you.

    Since you have identified yourself as a political scientist, let me know if you are attending any upcoming conferences. I'll buy the first beer.