Give the Drummer Some

Kudos to Cindy McGuirl for releasing the absolutely essential The Compositions of Paul Motian, Volume 1: 1973-1989. Full details at Uncle Paul’s Jazz Closet.

This is the best folio of a major jazz composer I’ve ever seen, partially just because the charts are in the composer’s own hand. Comparing the score to the record answers all questions. Motian’s script is gorgeous.

Cindy will release the second volume if enough copies of the first volume sell. You know what to do.


Paul’s death left a big hole in the scene. The drummer who has kind of eased into a new prominence and perhaps is even taking over some of Paul’s duties is the very great Andrew Cyrille.

John Coltrane called his late music not “free” or “rubato” but “multi-directional.” Joe Lovano told me something profound about Cyrille, “All the tempos are one tempo.” When I asked Andrew directly about his feel, he said, “You just simmer the vegetables on the grill.”

I’ve been enjoying both Proximity and The Declaration of Musical Independence. The first is a brilliant duo with Bill McHenry. Bill has a profound understanding of melody, and this bare bones session brings out something really correct in Bill’s playing.

ECM has a long track record of getting the most mellow and ambient work out of avant-garde masters. The Declaration of Musical Independence continues in this tradition. It’s impossible to imagine a more listenable set of experimental music. Bill Frisell is a perfect choice; Richard Teitelbaum adds just enough crunch; Ben Street is wayward and mysterious.

Aidan Levy also did a nice job getting more commentary from Andrew about his discography in a Bright Moments feature.