I'm not a huge fan of Jazz. I appreciate the musicianship; but, appreciate a melody more. Yes, I have seen and enjoyed the likes of Miles Davis, Maynard Ferguson, Stanley Jordan, Maynard Ferguson, Wynton Marsalis, Freddie Hubbard, Herbie Hancock (although, it was on the "Rock It" tour so, it was more hip hop than jazz), Tower of Power, Les Paul and, did I mention Maynard Ferguson (I like Maynard Ferguson and saw him thrice in concert). I also caught Miles a 2nd time. Additionally, one of my favorite albums is "Time Out" by the Dave Brubeck Quartet. However, at the base of all the above mentioned artists is a song with a melody as the basis for any improvisation.
When I saw the Paul Motian Trio 2000 +2 a few weeks ago at the Village Vanguard, I appreciated the musicianship, but found the jazz a little too avant-garde for my tastes. However, Paul Motian is 77 years old and my quest is my quest. I discovered that he would be playing the Blue Note in Greenwich Village with Ron Carter on bass and Bill Frisell on guitar. I had heard of Ron Carter and own a CD of Mr. Frisell's ("The Sweetest Punch: The New Songs of Burt Bacharach and Elvis Costello arranged by Bill Frisell" which is a jazz version of another of my favorite records, "Painted by Memory" the Burt Bacharach and Elvis Costello collaboration) which I like. Therefore, was somewhat hopeful that I would enjoy this show more.
After work, I ventured into The Village (yes, Greenwich Village, but is there really another one?). It was cold, crisp New York night, but I love spending time in NYC. As I walked, I passed the corner of 4th and Broadway and shed a tear for the former site of Tower Records. I quickly dabbed the tear before it froze to my cheek and continued on feeling positively 4th Street. I passed Washington Square Park, made a left on 5th and a right onto West 3rd. About a block away from the Blue Note, I spotted Peanut Butter & Co., a restaurant that I had seen profiled on the Food Network. I had “The Elvis” in honor of what would have been The King’s 74th birthday the day before. It was a tasty sandwich.
Sated in hunger, it was time to check out the show. The Blue Note is a long narrow club with a small stage off to one side. The décor of the club reminded me of a cruise ship. A deep royal blue accented with mirrors to give the appearance of size. The small tables were packed tightly together. I was required to check my coat because if I put it on the back of my chair, I would be blocking the aisle. I wanted to bring laptop bag with me to my table; however, there wasn’t sufficient room. I left my camera in the bag; therefore, I didn’t take any pictures. I did take my poster with me, though and kept it between my legs. I was seated at a long table with seven other people, who all sat thisclose to each other. My seat which was 2nd row center was a little too close to the stage. The next time I go, I will sit a little further back in order to see the whole stage at once.
Paul Motian is an influential jazz drummer who is not a strict time keeper. He has played with Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, Thelonius Monk, among others. My reason for going, of course, was that he played with Arlo Guthrie at the Woodstock Festival. Ron Carter plays a double bass and is famous for playing with Miles Davis during the 1960’s as well as being a studio musician. Bill Frisell is an accomplished guitarist who has been playing with Paul Motian since 1981and has played with numerous others, including, Elvis Costello, Ginger Baker, David Sanborn, and Marianne Faithful. The trio recorded an album in 2006 which they were supporting; although, I hadn’t heard it prior to the concert. They started with a deconstructed version of “You Are My Sunshine” which was the only tune that I recognized during their 75 minute set. Of course, it was avant-garde; however, it wasn’t bad. I might have to listen to their album to make a better determination.
After the show, I took my poster to the 2nd floor of the club where the kitchen, rest rooms, and the band dressing room were located. There were a couple of other autograph seekers there and an intermediary was handling the requests. She brought my poster into Mr. Motian and he signed it for me. I also caught Ron Carter in the hall and he signed a program for me. But, the big news is that I finally obtained Paul Motian’s autograph. That’s 24 down and 80 more to go. Stay tuned.