Paul Motian


NEW YORK (AP) - Longtime jazz drummer and composer Paul Motian, who came to prominence as a member of pianist Bill Evans' trio in the late 1950s and influenced a generation of musicians with his astounding sense of time, died Tuesday at age 80.

Motian died at a Manhattan hospital because of complications of a bone marrow disorder, said friend and bandmate Joe Lovano, a tenor saxophonist who began performing with him in 1981.

"He was a hard-swinging free jazz drummer with an uncanny sense of time-phrasing and form that was beyond description," Lovano said.

Motian, who grew up in Providence, Rhode Island, and spent time in the Navy, came to the forefront while a member of Evans' trio in the late 1950s and early 1960s, playing on landmark recordings such as "Waltz for Debby" and "Sunday at the Village Vanguard." He also had longtime partnerships with pianist Keith Jarrett, bassist Charlie Haden and guitarist Bill Frisell.

Lovano called hi m a "true natural and one of the most expressive musicians in jazz."

"His touch and sound, sense of dynamics were so personal and unmatched," Lovano said.

Motian's career also included stints as a bandleader, beginning with the album "Conception Vessel" in 1972, and as a composer of works Lovano characterized as "hauntingly beautiful." As a leader, he recorded nearly three dozen albums for the ECM, Winter & Winter and JMT labels.

"As a composer he wrote pieces of music that were vehicles for improvisation," Lovano said.

Even after Motian stopped touring he continued to perform and record, mostly in New York and most often at the Village Vanguard jazz club, where he last performed in September, according to Lovano. His repertoire included originals, American songbook standards and traditional bebop.

Jarrett said Motian was a good drummer because he "understood composition."

"A lot of drummers are good drummers because they have some unde rstanding of rhythm," Jarrett told The New York Times. "Paul had an innate love of song."

Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press

Guest Book

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Leroy Jenkins and I played on "conception vessel" - it was so easy to play with him, and his concepts left room for space and sound to meld into a very special space.
He will be missed, but his sound will live on in our lives.
With great appreciation for all his gifts, and giving them to us all.
Becky Friend (flute/conception vessel)

As the days and weeks pass, and as you return to life's routine, may you continue to feel comforted by the love and support of family and friends.

I certainly want to be among the many who know the future promises for our lossed loved ones to death, the God will wipe away every tear, that death will be no more, pain and suffering, that we have everlasting life to look forward to. Praise Jah. Revelatin 21:3,4 Respectifully. ef of Ohio

When I attended college at the University of Illinois and the Krannert Center was completed, Keith Jarret, Charlie Haden and Paul Motian played an oustanding and beautiful concert performance; and to this day I have not had an experience that was as great as their performance together that day. Thank you. Peace. -Scott Dickinson, class of '79

May your hearts soon be filled with wonderful memories of joyful times together as you celebrate a life well lived.

Please accept my condolences, one day we won't have to feel the hurt of loosing someone so dear and close to our hearts. Know that God knows your pain and will continue to comfort you with the many promises he has made and will fulfill. Please read Act 24:15, Luke 14:14

At the end of each life is a legacy of love.. My deepest condolences to the family and friends. As the days and weeks pass and as you return to life routine, may you continue to feel comforted by the love and support of God, family and friend James 4:8 Draw close to God and he will draw close to you

November 24, 2011
My deepest sympathy for the family at this time. May the God of comfort be with you at this time. 2Corthians 1:3,4