How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Paul Motian's longstanding trio is considered one of the greatest jazz bands of today, if not all time. With guitarist Bill Frisell and tenor man Joe Lovano working in symbiotic melody and harmony, Motian has the freedom to showcase his use of color and texture. These musicians approach a standard as if it were an original, with just as much conviction and respect for the melody as if they had written it themselves.
Over twenty years, this band has redefined the role of a trio. Each voice supports one another, as if a soloist is just as much of a support as the accompanist. With such a successful formula, it would be a shock if the trio were to release any deviation from its previous works.
And At The Village Vanguard, ten years down the road, is a predictably beautiful record. This reissue offers the same somersaulting Lovano, texturizing Motian, and brink-of-insanity Frisell that can be heard playing their Village Vanguard engagement every fall. Save for "You Took The Words Right Out Of My Heart, this is a collection of Motian originals. Bill Frisell pulls out all the stops on "Abacus when his freight train power blues makes an unexpected appearance. Lovano follows suit and Motian switches from swirling, sonic embellishments to supportive swing to demonstrate his restrained, tamer side. "The Sunflower has eccentric guitar manipulation, an energetic horn that cuts through like a church bell, and cymbals that can fill a song with just the slightest touch.
This is a timeless recording, but only because it could be mistaken as a contemporary one. Consistency isn't always a bad thing; this trio has the ability to move an audience with its emotive expression, and play with a synergy unmatched by any other working band.
Track Listing: You Took the Words Right Out of My Heart; Abacus; Folk Song for Rosie; The Owl of
Cranston; 5 Miles to Wrentham; Yahllah; The Sunflower; Circle Dance.
Personnel: Bill Frisell: guitar, guitar synth; Joe Lovano: tenor sax; Paul Motian: percussion, drums.