“He could swing his ass off when called upon, but, given his druthers, Motian would break up time signatures with impunity, dangling himself and his bandmates in space until he miraculously brought them home safely. There was an edge of anxiety to watching Motian at work. He knew it and exploited it to everyone’s advantage.” — Steve Futterman, The New Yorker
On July 13 at Jazz Central (8:30 pm), one of the youngest jazz curators in the Twin Cities assembles a cross-generation quartet to pay homage to one of the true icons of the idiom, the late Paul Motian. Bassist Charlie Lincoln has quite a long resume for his 19 years, including this summer stint as a monthly curator for the “new music” night, filling in for Chris Bates. Joining Charlie for this night of Paul Motian compositions will be fellow college student Patrick Adkins on piano and veterans Chris Cunningham on guitar and Jay Epstein on drums.
Charlie notes that “Paul Motian has been a musician of interest to me for a long time, and last school year I started listening to him intently… more than any other musician in the past year. His music really needs to be played live. I had the opportunity to try out a new project, so I came up with a band to play all Paul Motian music.”
Drummer, composer and bandleader Paul Motian was born in Philadelphia and grew up in Providence, RI, starting drums at age 12. Moving to NY in 1955, he played with Thelonious Monk, Lennie Tristano, Coleman Hawkins, and George Russell before joining Bill Evans most lauded trio (with bassist Scott LeFaro), appearing on Sunday the Village Vanguard and Waltz for Debby. Motian left Evans in 1963, joining Paul Bley for a year before starting his long collaboration with Keith Jarrett in 1966; he played in Jarrett’s American Quartet through 1977, while also performing with Charles Lloyd, Carla Bley and Charle Haden’s Liberation Music Ensemble. Motian released his first recording as leader (Conception Vessel) in 1972; his working group (with Joe Lovano) recorded several sessions for ECM and Soul Note, later adding Bill Frisell. In the late 80s, Motian moved to the JMT label and released a number of acclaimed albums starting with Monk in Motian. In the 90s he led the Electric Bebop Band with Joshua Redman and two guitarists (Kurt Rosenwinkel and Brad Shepik). Motian joined the ECM label in 2005 and released another string of well-regarded albums including Garden of Eden, Lost in a Dream, and Consort in Motion.
In his last decade, Motian was a familiar act at the Village Vanguard and Cornelia Street Cafe in Manhattan, where, noted New Yorker critic Steve Futterman, you could hear him “twist metrical time into knots, leading his cohorts into strange, hardly imagined terrain, or, sometimes simultaneously, coax poetry from players who didn’t always know that they had it in them…” Motian died from myelodysplastic syndrome in 2011.
Charlie Lincoln and Paul Motian Tribute at Jazz Central
Charlie Lincoln recently completed his first year of jazz studies at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. A Minneapolis South High alum, Charlie was already a busy gigging musician before graduation, playing with the Dakota Combo, Central Standard Time, the Charles Lincoln Group, and subbing with Eric Gravatt’s Source Code. In his senior year, Charlie was selected as one of two winning youth songwriters in the Eric Stokes Songwriting Contest and was on stage for the Young Performers Showcase for the Zeitgeist New Music Cabaret. While on vacation from Berklee this summer, Charlie is keeping busy, performing with Hoaxer and the Dave Brattain Trio during the Twin Cities Jazz Festival, opening the All Originals summer jazz series at Studio Z on July 8, and serving as a curator for several Wednesday nights of “new music” at Jazz Central. He also appears throughout the summer in other bands.
Pianist Patrick Adkins is a graduate of Edina High School who also performed with the Dakota Combo and Minnesota Youth Jazz Band. He started taking classical piano lessons at age six, later studying jazz with Tom Pletscher at MacPhail. Now ready for his senior year at Lawrence Conservatory, Patrick is back for the summer and performing with such bands as Sound Skirmish, an ensemble he organized during his high school days with Levi Schwartzberg, Drew Stinson and Ben Ehrlich.
Chris Cunningham is a guitarist/ producer/ composer/ remixer/ songwriter/educator who has performed on stage and in the studio with such artists as Marianne Faithfull, Joan Osborne, John Lurie’s Lounge Lizards, Gavin Friday, Boukman Eksperyans, Coloring Time, Kill the Vultures, Omar Farouk Tekbilek, Katell Keineg, The Contortions, The Golden Paliminos, Marshall Crenshaw, Richie Havens, John Zorn, and The Saqqara Dogs. He currently composes for and leads the groups Mississippi Peace and Fall of the House of Usher, as well as working as composer and sound designer for cinema, with a specialty in surround-sound horror soundtracks. Chris has a Masters Degree in Music Performance and is currently on the the Sound Arts faculty at Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC). He has served as Department Head of the Songwriting and Composition Department at McNally Smith College of Music, and as head of the Entertainment Business Department of IPR.
Of trapset master Jay Epstein, Cadence Magazine’s David Lewis noted that “his dazzling cymbal and snare work extends the lineage of Tony Williams and Jack DeJohnette.” For many years, Epstein managed time for the Phil Aaron Trio, and the band has recently reunited; more recently he toured with Richie Cole and Five by Design. These days, in addition to his long-running partnership with Dean Magraw and Chris Bates as Red Planet, Jay keeps busy with Framework, Counterclockwise, Firebell, Bronkow Vision, Off the Map and Dean Granros’ Tall Tales, and in support of a long list of area vocalists and instrumentalists. Jay released Long Ago on Igmod Records, has recorded with Bill Carrothers, and appears on each of Gordon Johnson’s Trios, among a long list of sideman credits.
This night at Jazz Central will be unique in the presentation of all Paul Motian music and exciting as a collaboration of mature veterans and young energetic explorers.
Jazz Central is located at 407 Central Ave SE in Minneapolis. A nonprofit performance and education space, Jazz Central presents jazz five and sometimes six nights per week. Donation of $10 ($5 students) requested to support the band and the venue. Full schedule at http://jazzcentralstudios.org