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.