Playing guitar in childhood, Motian turned to the drums, becoming a professional musician in his teens, Working in New York City from the mid-50s, Motian was in bands led by swing era veterans, including Roy Eldridge and Coleman Hawkins, bop stylists, such as Thelonious Monk, experimentalists, George Russell and Lennie Tristano, and mainstream master, Stan Getz. His ability to blend comfortably with such diverse musicians makes clear the breadth of Motian's talent. This talent was most clearly demonstrated during a five-year spell, from 1959, as a member of the Bill Evans Trio, How My Heart Sings! (1962). It was at this time that Motian began most clearly to set down new ideas for the role of the drummer in contemporary jazz. This work with Evans, which he built upon during a mid-60s spell with Paul Bley, Turns (1964), more than a decade with Keith Jarrett, Mysteries (1975), that ended in 1977, and Charlie Haden, The Ballad Of The Fallen (1982). By this time, Motian, always subtle and deeply thoughtful in his playing, had dispensed with most of the expected and accepted time-keeping aspects of the drums although he did from time to time offer hints toward orthodoxy, notably when playing with his long-lasting trio, which had guitarist Bill Frisell and saxophonist Joe Lovano. Motian composed music, for his own and other jazz groups and also for films, adopting a free approach to music that demonstrated the extent of his abstract thought.
Followers: Jeff Ballard
Influenced By: Big Sid Catlett, Kenny Clarke...