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Paul Motian Trio
I HAVE THE ROOM ABOVE HER
(ECM)

The freedom and grace of the playing on these 12 tracks wonít surprise listeners familiar with Paul Motianís career ó after all, he helped invent this kind of intimate three-way jazz conversation in the Bill Evans Trio more than 40 years ago. This particular trio, with saxophonist Joe Lovano and guitarist Bill Frisell, have been around at least since their first ECM album in 1984. Except for the title track (from Jerome Kern & Oscar Hammersteinís Show Boat) and Monkís "Dreamland," all of the pieces are by Motian, and they all float unanchored by bass lines, strict tempos, or even sometimes clear tonal centers.

What they do have is melody and texture and a three-way awareness of dynamics and form. No recording ever benefitted more from Manfred Eicherís tight-close-up production, with its hint of chilly reverb. Even Motianís most delicate cymbal hits register with force and color. Most of the pieces on I Have the Room Above Her (in stores February 8) hover around the five-minute mark, and none loses its way. The title cut is a demonstration of melody and its complete abstraction. Motianís "Dance" has a free-jazz aggressive bomp, with its fragmented ascending theme. "Riot Act" indulges Frisellís electronic effects. "One in Three" is Motianís delicate nursery rhyme. Frisell has his country licks and Jim Hall harmonies, Lovano huffs rhythmically varied tenor lines like the post-bop grand master he is, and Motian once again proves his ability to create driving jazz pulse with nothing more than a whispering wire brush.

BY JON GARELICK


Issue Date: February 4 - 10, 2005
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