Thursday, January 26, 2012

January's Underappreciated Music: the links and RIP: Joe Morello and Paul Motian

Patti Abbott: Kalena Kai

Bill Crider: The Sons of the Pioneers; Don Gibson

Jerry House: Bessie Smith

Randy Johnson: Jake Holmes, exploited by the Yardbirds (and that minor successor project of Jones and Page)

George Kelley: Some Girls (remastered) by The Rolling Stones

Charlie Ricci: The Turtles

In 2011, we lost two of the great jazz drummers of the post-bop era...major contributors to third stream and other adventurous music of the era: Joe Morello and Paul Motian. Two New England guys, of Southern European extraction at a time when that wasn't always comfortable in America (Morello Italian-American, Motian Armenian-American), about the same age (Motian a few years younger), and both began as string-instrumentalists: Motian was a guitarist, Morello a wunderkind violinist. Instead, they moved over to being among the most impressive and influential of drummers, usually but not exclusively as jazz players, and both thoroughly engaged in musical education (Morello particularly formally, as the creator of texts and a/v materials and as an instructor, Motian often in taking in younger players in his bands). With the loss of Max Roach and Elvin Jones and Art Blakey and Connie Kay and Kenny Clarke and a slew of others over the previous decade or so (of that generation, perhaps the only prominent survivor is Chico Hamilton, but I'm probably being criminally forgetful), it's a Change of the Guard, and not necessarily a welcome one.

I met Morello once, and he suggested that this was among his own favorite performances:

Some further examples:

Of course, Morello wasn't a part of the "original" Dave Brubeck quartet; just the best one.

Paul Motian (has there ever been a better surname for a drummer?), with his first great band:
(the loud hiss is kicked down with the beginning of the music)

With Paul Bley and Gary Peacock:

with the Charles Lloyd Quartet:

Rest in glory.


George said...

You're right about Morello and Motian: great jazz artists who we will all miss. At least we still have the recordings and YouTube.

Todd Mason said...

And Morello's texts. Particularly impressive when you consider Morello was born nearly blind, and still wrote out exercises on staves.