Drummer Paul Motian makes another stellar recording with his newest trio of pianist Jason Moran and saxophonist Chris Potter. Soon to be eighty, the drummerwho doesn't venture out of Manhattan these daysdisplays full command over musical expression and emotion on this live recording.
It's impossible to listen to Motian's trio work at New York's Village Vanguard without reflecting on his employer in the early 1960s, Bill Evans. Motian sat at the drum chair for those grail-like dates with the pianist and bassist Scott LaFaro. Like the reissued Complete Live At The Village Vanguard 1961 (Riverside, 2005), Lost in a Dream has the electric feel of rarified air. Like his previous Vanguard trio with Joe Lovano and Bill Frisell, this new generation of players brings sensitivity and subtle swing to Motian's compositions and ideas.
Moran is an innovative leader with his group Bandwagon, and a steady sideman to saxophonist Charles Lloyd. Likewise Potter has released nearly two dozen discs as a leade,r besides being a go-to sideman for the likes of Dave Holland and Dave Douglas. Both musicians understand and respect the venerated position they find themselves in here, playing Motian compositions at the Vanguard.
Of the ten tracks, nine are Motian originals. The trio pauses only for Irving Berlin's "Be Careful It's My Heart," a short three-minute straight rendering of lush emotions. Backed by Motian's brushes and the gentle encouragement of Moran, Potter delivers a bluesy soulful ballad worthy of both Lester Young and Dexter Gordon. Elsewhere, the drummer's tracks seem to build upon each other, opting for reserve over ballyhooa Motian hallmark. This reserve reveals each players' improvisational thoughts with greater clarity. Moran and Potter articulate lines from "Birdsong" with economy, yet display an extravagance of feeling. The session's emotion peaks with "Drum Music," an open ended expression of energy. Motian steps from his role of guide to explore a looser, freer sound. With Moran grinding out notes and Potter blowing upper and lower register energy, Motian is set free, ending the set with a bit of freewheeling solo work.
The trio returns for an encore with "Abacus,"and the crowd demands another drum solo from Motian. He is, after all, the session leader. Finally, they return to the patented introspection with the beautiful "Cathedral Song," a fitting title for the house of worship that the Village Vanguard has become for Motian.
Personnel: Chris Potter: tenor saxophone; Jason Moran: piano; Paul Motian: drums.