Paul Motian Trio w/Jason Moran, Chris Potter | Lost In A Dream | ECM 2128



Chris Potter and Paul Motian have plenty of history together. Potter was a charter member of the drummer’s Electric Bebop Band when barely out of his teens, has continued to work with him in the Trio 2000, and been strongly influenced by Paul’s approach to music making. As the saxophonist told journalist Bill Milkowski, “Motian has really had a big effect on the way that I think about music: He approaches things from such an anti-analytical way. He relies on his aesthetic sensibility and his instinct. It takes a lot of courage to do that.”

The present project is a characteristic leap of faith. Although the New York Times, reviewing the concerts, would write that “the playing of Mr Moran had a strong pull in the music, attesting to some deep compatibility with Mr Motian,“ the drummer and pianist had worked together only once previously, in the context of a gig with violinist Jenny Scheinman in 2006.

Motian noted Moran’s particular idiosyncrasies – not least that strong, independent left hand – and waited for the right context to deploy them

Moran and Potter, meanwhile, have been collaborators in a number of contexts: both have worked with Dave Holland, for instance, and both are currently member of his Overtone Quartet.

There is a cragginess in Jason Moran’s playing perhaps related to inspirational roots in Thelonious Monk – an attribute that Motian, who played briefly with Monk in the 1950s is likely to value. Motian himself has certainly retained a Monkish sense of stubborn independence and he remains the most unpredictable of drummers. In the playing of both Motian and Moran there is flintiness and suppleness in juxtaposition. These qualities also help to set up unique frameworks in which Chris Potter’s saxophones can find expression.


“Lost In A Dream” is amongst Potter’s strongest recorded performances. He plays Motian’s melodies with great emotional conviction.

Here, new Motian tunes are heard alongside older pieces – “Birdsong” (from “Tati”) and “Drum Music” and “Abacus” (first heard on Paul’s now legendary album “Le Voyage”). A free exploration of Irving Berlin’s “Be Careful It’s My Heart” completes a programme distinguished by graceful playing from all three participants who are in tune at a high level. There is a lot of space in the music, and the players take full creative advantage of it. In the flowing ballads of “Lost In A Dream”, Motian is as much a sound painter as a keeper of pulses, excelling in the free ballad genre that he helped to invent, but also supremely well-equipped to address the swirling free exchanges of “Ten”, “Drum Music” and “Abacus”.