Paul Motian: 9 x 9


9 x 9


Paul Motian (drums)


The Story of Maryam (Soul Note 121074)

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Paul Motian (drums), Bill Frisell (guitar), Jim Pepper (tenor sax), Joe Lovano (tenor sax), Ed Schuller (bass).

Composed by Paul Motian


Recorded: July 27 or 28, 1983


Rating: 92/100 (learn more)

An unusual take on collectively improvised free jazz, featuring an amped-up Bill Frisell and two aggressive, stylistically similar tenor saxophonists, Joe Lovano and the late Jim Pepper.

Drummer/composer Paul Motian's rubato melodies are loosely rendered by the saxes and guitar, beneath which Motian and bassist Ed Schuller concoct an amorphous, out-of-time rhythmic and harmonic platform. In his solo, Frisell is as rock-ish as he was inclined to get, adopting a metallic guise with generous helpings of distortion and delay. The saxophonists are hard to tell apart—certainly Lovano was not as distinctive in the earlier '80s as he later became—but both contribute creatively to the demoniacally agitated ebb and flow. Of course, Motian is in charge of that; his simultaneously riotous and self-contained manner of playing incites with intelligence.

Free jazz—especially the kind that steers clear of regular pulse—has in the main been the province of acoustic musicians. Frisell's rock-inspired playing goes far in defining this group's unconventional sound. It's as welcome as it is atypical.

Reviewer: Chris Kelsey

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