07 April 2010

Review: Lost in a Dream

Paul Motian

I'm gonna stay with the youngsters. When these get too old, I'm gonna get some younger ones. Keeps the mind active. -Art Blakey, A Night At Birdland, Vol. 2

I was thinking of Art Blakey's words when I picked up the new Paul Motian album. Having been long celebrated for his trio with Joe Lovano and Bill Frisell (among many other projects), Motian now finds himself also touring with another pair of youngsters in saxophonist Chris Potter and pianast Jason Moran. As with his work with the former, Motian's trio with the latter reiterates his status as the foremost musical heir to former employer Bill Evans. Evans freed up the piano trio with Motian and bassist Scott LaFaro, giving immense freedom to each member of the trio. Motian has taken Evans' impulse a few steps further, giving each member of his trio complete freedom.

I am rarely as predisposed to like an album as I am with Lost in a Dream, but I cannot say that Motian, Moran, and Potter did not follow through on their potential. At their best moments, like nearly five minutes into Casino, when Potter builds up to a Coltranesque wail over Moran's plaintive chords and Motian's dirge-like pulse, they are truly sublime. The three have enough personality and fertile minds between them to make such free music and a loose organizational structure work. Moran has been one of the most rewarding pianists to listen to over the past decade, while Potter's consistency is rare among today's musicians (I cannot think of a single project of his that I have not liked). Motian is in good company, which pays dividends throughout the album.

As much as I am sure to keep enjoying this album, I cannot escape the wish that Motian had employed a more groove-like feel every once in awhile. He comes closest on the title track, but it is much too subtle to feel like a departure from the rest of the album. However, this is but a minor inconvenience in an album that seems destined to age well.

Track Listing: Mode VI; Casino; Lost In A Dream; Blue Midnight; Be Careful It's My Heart; Birdsong; Ten; Drum Music; Abacus; Cathedral Song
Personnel: Paul Motian, drums; Chris Potter, saxophone; Jason Moran, piano

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