RELEASE
April 24, 2009
LABEL
Winter
GENRES
Jazz

Album Review

Paul Motian was 57 when, in 1988, he launched his On Broadway series with On Broadway, Vol. 1 -- and 20 years later in 2008, a 77-year-old Motian made his fifth contribution to the series with On Broadway, Vol. 5. The lineups have changed from one On Broadway disc to another; this time, the veteran drummer is joined by Loren Stillman and Michaƫl Attias on sax, Masabumi Kikuchi on acoustic piano, and Thomas Morgan on upright bass. But the basic idea behind the series remains the same -- Motian approaching popular standards not as Broadway show tunes, traditional pop, or cabaret, but as straight-ahead instrumental jazz -- and a spirit of improvisation prevails. The only song on this 56-minute CD that Motian composed is the North African-tinged opener "Morrock"; other than that, he focuses on the work of other composers, usually favoring a ballad tempo. But the fact that On Broadway, Vol. 5 is dominated by ballads doesn't mean that the performances are overly sentimental. Actually, Motian's interpretations of Lionel Hampton's "Midnight Sun," Sammy Fain's "Something I Dreamed Last Night," and other standards are fairly angular, recalling Thelonious Monk in the '50s. Motian doesn't approach Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz' "I See Your Face Before Me," Frank Loesser's "Sue Me," or Leonello Casucci's "Just a Gigolo" as avant-garde jazz or free jazz -- nothing that radical or left-of-center occurs -- but he does favor an angular, Monk-ish style of hard bop. In a sense, On Broadway is an ironic title for this series because Motian certainly doesn't perform standards the way they would be performed in a Broadway theatrical production; he performs them like someone who is hell-bent for hardcore jazz. On Broadway, Vol. 5 is a welcome addition to the series.
Alex Henderson, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Morrock
  2. Something I Dreamed Last Night
  3. Just a Gigolo
  4. I See Your Face Before Me
  5. A Lovely Way to Spend an Evening
  6. Midnight Sun
  7. Sue Me