Paul Motian: The Story of Maryam


The Story of Maryam


Paul Motian (drums)


The Story of Maryam (Soul Note 121074)

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

Composed by Paul Motian


Recorded: July 27 or 28, 1983


Rating: 91/100 (learn more)

Drummer Paul Motian has always had infallible taste in saxophonists, going back to his early records as a leader. Here his sax savvy is in evidence twice-over, with the inclusion of the late Jim Pepper on soprano and Joe Lovano on tenor.

"The Story of Maryam" is a gentle, Latin-flavored waltz that features most notably guitarist Bill Frisell's quasi-detuned, dynamically-varied electric guitar atmospherics and the two nimble saxophonists exchanging the sing-song melody—one improvising while the other solos. Pepper and Lovano are garrulous, engaging players, and they work wonderfully together. Motian has always struck this writer as being more intriguing when playing "out" than when playing straight time, but his unusual, snare-laden approach works nicely on this. He's one of the unique instrumental voices among modern jazz drummers, regardless of the context.

A refined version of this group—his trio with Frisell and Lovano—became one of Motian's best and longest-running bands. This performance provides an opportunity to hear an earlier, expanded version of that ensemble. It isn’t quite as compelling as the best of the music made by the trio, but it has its own not insubstantial charms.

Reviewer: Chris Kelsey

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