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Holiday for Strings

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Album Review

Drummer Paul Motian and his Electric Bebop Band surge forward with this 2002 release, featuring the lineup witnessed on the previous EBBB release, Europe. And while the title might allude to a program consisting of soft string arrangements, the sextet provides its indelible touch of class to a series of generally moving works — regardless of intensity. Motian's brilliant timekeeping represents the heart of matters, whether he comps via deft brushwork or uses his cymbals as an artist would stroke a canvas. Many of these pieces feature oscillating rhythms and ethereal interludes, yet much of the excitement entails guitarists Steve Cardenas and Ben Monder's often stirring, dark-toned jazz voicings. The group is uncannily tight, although it perpetuates a loose feel during spirited swing vamps on pieces such as "Look to the Black Wall" and others. Motian's rumbling polyrhythmic solo on "Endgame" serves as the bridge amid saxophonists Pietro Tonolo and Chris Cheek's wistful lines and dreamy soundscapes, while Steve Cardenas' composition "Roundup" offers a taste of Ornette Coleman-style harmolodics. This recording clocks in at 43 minutes, even though quality typically prevails over quantity in most cases, which is a notion that is undeniably evident here. Passionately recommended.


Born: 25 March 1931 in Philadelphia, PA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

A masterfully subtle drummer and a superb colorist, Paul Motian was also an advanced improviser and a bandleader with a taste for challenging post-bop. Born Stephen Paul Motian in Philadelphia on March 25, 1931, he grew up in Providence and began playing the drums at age 12, eventually touring New England in a swing band. He moved to New York in 1955 and played with numerous musicians -- including Thelonious Monk, Lennie Tristano, Coleman Hawkins, Tony Scott, and George Russell -- before settling...
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Holiday for Strings, Paul Motian
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