Sunday Jazz: Remembering drumming great Paul Motian

The Bill Evans Trio, 1961

Paul Motian (r) with Scott LaFaro (l) and Bill Evans, 1961

Jazz drumming legend Paul Motian died last Tuesday at age 80 due to complications of a bone marrow disorder. My first exposure to Motian was through his output with Bill Evans in the late ’50s and early ’60s. Motian was a member of Evans’ trio when they recorded a pair of immortal albums at New York’s Village Vanguard in 1961 — Sunday at the Village Vanguard and Waltz for Debby.

Motian recorded and performed almost up until his death, although to be honest it’s his Evans stint I remember the most. But hey, there are worse things to be remembered for, right? For my humble remembrance of Motian, then, a selection from Waltz for Debby. It’s the Miles David modal workout “Milestones.” Listen to Motian carry the tune along as Evans and bassist Scott LaFaro play off each other brilliantly.

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