Monday, April 17, 2017

Paul Motian "West 107th Street" and Playing the Piano

















Thanks to Chicago's Ted Sirota who shared this brilliant little drum solo from Paul Motian called "West 107th Street", originally featured on a duo recording with pianist Paul Bley entitled "Notes":



I was also recently intrigued by an episode of Uncle Paul's Jazz Closet, a wonderful regular podcast in which Motian's niece chronicles her uncle's music. Specifically, she recently shared several home recordings made on cassette of Motian practicing the piano and playing through several of his original compositions (circa. 1978). Check it out here: http://jazzcloset.blogspot.ca/2017/04/set-list-040717.html

I find this all quite inspiring and daunting at the same time. Apparently he was quite a devout student of the piano, had a regular teacher and practiced regularly (he even bought and played one of Keith Jarrett's pianos!) And of course, Motian was a prolific composer as well (you can purchase a volume of his compositions here: http://jazzcloset.blogspot.ca/p/motian-songbook.html)

Personally, I record myself a lot while playing the vibraphone, sometimes on the piano (maybe with my iPhone) and, most recently, singing ideas into a Sony digital dictaphone. I also find the Zoom H6 a very useful tool for recording myself on the drums. Overall I find the process of recording myself (even if I'm not playing my main instrument) a great way to document and develop different compositional ideas. However, I also find the idea of these personal recordings being released into universe for all to hear being absolutely terrifying too! They're not really for anyone but myself to listen to...

So who knows if Paul Motian really meant for anyone to hear these personal recordings, but boy are we sure lucky that we are afforded this rare opportunity, a glimpse into the artistic process of a master musician.

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