One of the many things I love about being a musician is the deep well of inspiration that will never stop providing if you keep an open mind and open ears.
I’ve known about Paul Motian and listened to his playing countless times with Bill Evans, but until a few years ago that’s about as far as I’ve gone. I think I subconsciously avoided his solo work because I was overwhelmed with where to start or how to wrap my head around it.
That was until I met Colin Stranahan after a gig in Minneapolis. He showed me one of his own original compositions and told me about how big of an influence Paul Motian has been on him, both as a drummer and musician. That made a big impression on me and as soon as I got home I ordered both volumes of The Compositions of Paul Motian and began listening to the Uncle Paul’s Jazz Closet podcast as a way to dive in.
Recently I was reminded about the Paul Motian documentary “Motian in Motion” and found it available online. It’s a beautiful film filled with wonderful footage of Paul both on and off the stage. There are too many great moments to mention and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Since watching the documentary I’ve been listening to Paul Motian’s Electric Bebop Band almost exclusively. Hearing familiar tunes is a really great path into his playing and will no doubt lead my ears down paths that I’ve yet to discover.
This came out around the time that I was at Berklee and I hadn’t started to wrap my head around Jack’s playing yet. Somehow this one slipped by me at the time. Admitting that I saw this video for the first time in 2022 doesn’t feel great, but I’m glad I finally watched it. I know many drummers that wore this video out in the 90s.
Jack’s playing is great and the interviewer is thoughtful, asking just the right questions to get Jack to open up on topics ranging from relaxation, dynamics, brushes, and playing musically over the bar line. There are lots of gems here!
His sound, touch, and creativity on that recording lit something up inside of me and I’ve been obsessively listening to him since. There’s a richness and depth to his playing that I just can’t get enough of.
In addition to his extensive work as a side player, Drummond’s solo work stands on its own. His album “Dubai” is a masterpiece and the title track is hypnotic. Despite being released almost 30 years ago, it still sounds fresh.
More recently, Billy Drummond has been playing with his new group Freedom of Ideas. I had the pleasure of seeing them live the weekend before they recorded the new album, which they announced at the gig.
As we’re celebrating Juneteenth in the United States, I can’t help but think about drummer Roy Brooks and his album The Free Slave. One of my drum teachers let me borrow it years ago and it’s been a favorite ever since.
Roy Brooks is perhaps most known for his time with Horace Silver. Check him out on Doin’ the Thing (live at the Village Vanguard).
The Free Slave, released under Roy’s name, is a fantastic live album recorded in 1970 and released in 1972. It features an incredible band: Woody Shaw, George Coleman, Hugh Lawson, and Cecil McBee. The band is really dialed in and having fun. Roy Brooks sounds as strong as ever. Check out his solo on “Five for Max.”
What I love about this album is the energy from the crowd. Their love and support for this band is undeniable. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! It’s pretty easy to find online and CD copies are still around on the used market.
Huge thanks to Billy Drummond for sharing that Kenny Washington is returning to the radio with his own program!
His show will air for 2 hours every Monday 5-7pm (PST) / 8-10pm (EST) on Jazz 88.3 KSDS out of San Diego and will be streaming live.
Here are a few words from the man himself:
“After 20 years, I’m happy to announce that I’m back on the radio waves at KSDS Jazz 88.3, San Diego. The series is called Jazz Across America which airs M-F, 5 pm-7 PST/8 pm-10 EST with a different host each evening. I’ll be celebrating the great live music that has been recorded in the New York jazz clubs and ballrooms of the past 80 years.
I’ll also be dipping into the “maniac archives” from time to time playing rarities from my collection. Let me take care of your jazz listening needs on Mondays starting Feb. 14, 2022 from 5 pm-7pm (PST), 8 pm – 10 (EST). You can catch us on the web www.jazz88.org. Please be sure to tell your friends and enemies that The Maniac’s Back!!!!”