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One Time Out
One Time Out
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not my favorite, March 1, 2014
This review is from: One Time Out (Audio CD)
This was Motian's last album as a leader for Soul Note, and the 2nd one with just the trio (they'd also recorded four albums within the context of a quintet). After this one, Motian would move onto the JMT and Winter&Winter labels, where he'd make the lion's share of his best recordings.

One of the other reviewers comments that this is the trio's most "ferocious" album, and I think it's right. "Morpion", "One Time Out", "The Storyteller" contain plenty of thrash and skronk. I don't think the sound of the recording, which is one-dimensional and harsh, really brings out the best in these performances - compare them to "Abacus" on Live at the Village Vanguard or "Cosmology" on Trioism, and you may agree. You do have some quieter moments on the album - "Monk's Mood" and Tadd Dameron's "If You Could See Me Now", as well as the ballad "Portrait of T" - but I wouldn't count them as the trio's best work in this style.

If you like the trio's other work, this one is worth checking out, though I'd get about a dozen of their albums before this one.


Misterioso
Misterioso
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5.0 out of 5 stars Motian's best of the 80s, March 1, 2014
This review is from: Misterioso (Audio CD)
This was Paul Motian's final, and best, album with this quintet. It was also a bit of a turning point in terms of material; Motian's earlier albums consisted almost entirely of Motian originals, but here he adds two compositions by Thelonious Monk, resuming a kind of "musical love affair" with the pianist's music. (Motian had briefly played with Monk in the early 60s.) The title track is taken pretty respectfully - you don't get the wholesale deconstruction that would appear on the 90s album Sound of Love - and you also get a charming version of "Pannonica".

That said, the strength of this album is not only in the Monk tunes, but in a very strong set of 7 Motian originals. "Byablue", recorded previously on the Keith Jarrett album of the same title, gets a lovely solo rendition by Frisell. (To my knowledge, this is the only other time Motian recorded this tune - too bad, it's a great one.) You also get memorable versions of "Abacus", "Once Around the Park", and the beautiful ballad "Folk Song for Rosie". The piece de resistance is a romp through "Dance" - more aggressive and exciting than the original recording with Charles Brackeen and David Izenzon. It's worth hearing the album for this tune alone.


Mode for Joe
Mode for Joe
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A bit of a letdown, February 23, 2014
This review is from: Mode for Joe (Audio CD)
Compared to Inner Urge, Mode for Joe was a bit of a letdown (though it was a lot better than the next album Joe recorded, The Kicker). Around this period, Blue Note got into recording some of its star saxophonists in medium sized groups - Stanley Turrentine, Hank Mobley, and Wayne Shorter all did it. Stylistically, this sits about halfway between the hard-boppish Mobleys and the more avant-garde Shorter (The All Seeing Eye).

The lineup has a bit of a "fish nor fowl?" character to it: I'm not sure I would have picked Curtis Fuller for this date, and can't help wonder what it would have sounded like with Woody Shaw and Andrew Hill (or Freddie Hubbard and Herbie Hancock) replacing Lee Morgan and Cedar Walton. Still, the music is generally on a high level and if you let go of expectations a little, you'll find plenty to enjoy here.


Paul Motian
Paul Motian
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4.0 out of 5 stars The first 5, plus 1, February 23, 2014
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This review is from: Paul Motian (Audio CD)
With this package and the one released around the same time that covers his Soul Note album, all of Motian's early work as a leader has gotten the box set treatment. With a few exceptions I don't think either box covers his best work, but the music is generally at a very high level. Besides the leader's excellent work as a composer and drummer, you get a wide swath of extremely interesting sidemen.

The ECM box contains Motian's first 5 albums as a leader, plus 1 album recorded a few years later once he had moved onto the Soul Note label. Stylistically and lineup-wise, they can be split into 3 pairs:

1) Conception Vessel and Tribute. These parallel, to me, Tony Williams's first two albums on Blue Note (Life Time and Spring). CV is a mix of different lineups with include (on different tracks) Charlie Haden, Keith Jarrett, Sam Brown and Leroy Jenkins. Tribute is, of the six albums in this box, the one outright classic - Brown and Haden return to the lineup, and are joined by alto saxophonist Carlos Ward and a second guitarist.

2) Dance and Le Voyage. This was Motian's first working group, a trio with the Ornette-influenced saxophonist Charles Brackeen and a bassist (David Izenzon on Dance, Jean-Francois Jenny-Clark on Le Voyage). Dance is in my opinion the weakest album in this box; given the firepower this band could offer, it's incredibly restrained (you get a sense of what they were capable of on "Prelude" and "Dance". Le Voyage is stronger and harder-hitting. An underrated album in Motian's catalogue.

3) Psalm and It Should've Happened a Long Time Ago. Psalm was Motian's first recording with Joe Lovano and Bill Frisell (as part of a quintet), and ISHaLTA was his first TRIO recording with them. The albums in the Soul Note box feature similar lineups and round out this period. While I wouldn't call either album the best thing Motian did with Frisell and Lovano (either as a trio or within a quintet), they are both very good and worth hearing.

With the exception of Tribute, I wouldn't put any of these albums in the very top tier of Motian's work as a leader. But people who like the later albums on JMT, Winter & Winter and ECM will probably find a lot to like here (and should also consider picking up the Soul Note box).


It Should've Happened a Long Time Ago
It Should've Happened a Long Time Ago
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4.0 out of 5 stars Band within a Band, February 23, 2014
The choice to pick out this trio from Motian's quintet of the time was complete genius - while he recorded one more album with the quintet (the superb Misterioso), the collaboration with Frisell and Lovano would become his band of choice over the next decade. This album has a lusher, denser feel than the trio's later work; the band (and especially Frisell) would gradually pare back their sound on subsequent recordings.

The title track is probably the most memorable thing here; it's one of Motian's best compositions, though I think the version on Trioism is better. But there's nothing weak on here. This trio would make even stronger albums on JMT, Winter & Winter and ECM over the next few decades, this one is worth hearing.


Inner Urge
Inner Urge
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5.0 out of 5 stars Tour de force, February 21, 2014
This review is from: Inner Urge (Audio CD)
I'm pretty comfortable calling this Joe Henderson's best Blue Note album (though some of his post-BN work is of comparable quality). Joe's 100% "on", the rhythm section is locked in (McCoy and Elvin, just 8 days before A Love Supreme, fit in perfectly with Bob Cranshaw), and the compositions are great. Since a lot of the other tunes earn plenty of superlatives that I don't need to repeat, let me just single out "El Barrio" for amazing inside-outside saxophone playing and "You Say You Care" (a wonderful Duke Pearson tune) for great balladry. If you like post-bebop tenor saxophone, don't miss this one under any circumstances!


Our Thing
Our Thing
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb album, February 21, 2014
This review is from: Our Thing (Audio CD)
Though not nearly as well-known or popular as Page One, Our Thing is in my opinion a stronger album. In fact, I'd say it's the second-best album he made for Blue Note, after the classic Inner Urge. As with Page One and In'N'Out, the front line is the wonderful partnership of Joe with the older trumpeter, Kenny Dorham (who also contributes some excellent compositions). But unlike Page One, which falls very comfortably into the hard bop category, Joe's affinity with the jazz avant-garde starts popping up here. He takes a lot more chances with his playing than he did on the debut, and the presence of Eddie Khan and Andrew Hill in the rhythm section gives the whole album a looser, more adventurous feel. Hill in particular is fantastic on piano. If I had to pick my favorite tunes, I'd select "Teeter Totter" (which reminds me a little of the Coleman-Cherry quartet) and "Escapade" (one of those beautiful melancholy Dorham melodies). Don't miss this one!


Jack Of Clubs
Jack Of Clubs
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4.0 out of 5 stars Skronk, February 21, 2014
This review is from: Jack Of Clubs (Audio CD)
Along with the trio album One Time Out, this is one of Motian's skronkiest albums - far, far away from the ethereal sounds of I Have the Room Above Her. The lineup is Motian on drums, Ed Schuller on bass, Joe Lovano and Jim Pepper on saxophones, and Bill Frisell on guitar. And boy do they like to make a racket ("Drum Music" is awesome), though there are quiet moments and also some that SWING. While I would pick Misterioso and Story of Maryam as this group's best work, this one and Psalm are also worth hearing. Jack of Clubs is available on Motian's Soul Note 6 CD box set.


The Story Of Maryam
The Story Of Maryam
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4.0 out of 5 stars Don't overlook this one!, February 21, 2014
This review is from: The Story Of Maryam (Audio CD)
This was Paul Motian's first album on the Italian Soul Note label, and the 2nd album with his quintet. It's a stronger effort than the group's debut (Psalm), both due to a stronger set of compositions and due to Jim Pepper's presence (there is also a harder edge to the sound than on the lush ECM recordings). A few of these compositions are probably better known from other albums - "Trieste" was on Keith Jarrett's Byablue album, while the memorable "Owl of Cranston" would get a great interpretation on the 1990s Live at the Village Vanguard album. But the highlight of the album, in my opinion, is the beautiful, aching title track - one of Motian's best melodies, and one that to my knowledge he never recorded again. This album is available on Soul Note's 6 CD Paul Motian box set.


Psalm
Psalm
Price: $10.32

4.0 out of 5 stars When Paul Met Bill and Joe, February 21, 2014
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This review is from: Psalm (MP3 Music)
This was Motian's fifth album as leader, and introduced his then-new quintet - Joe Lovano and Billy Drewes on saxophones (Drewes would be replaced by Jim Pepper on later albums), Bill Frisell on guitar, and Ed Schuller on bass. Unlike the Motian-Lovano-Frisell trio's later, more austere work, the dual saxophones as well as Frisell's lush, effects-heavy guitar fill a lot of sonic space. The compositions are all over the map - you have "White Magic" which flat out rocks, the slightly corny calypso "Mandeville", and then other pieces that that are more typically Motianish. The top highlights are a pair of tunes that first appeared on the Keith Jarrett album Byablue and are given superior interpretations here - the haunting "Yahllah" and "Etude". This is not the quintet's best album, but it's worth hearing.


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