Paul Motian - The Windmills of your Mind
Reviewed in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald 10/9/11 - Review of the Week and Album of the Week.
During the acclaimed documentary "Sounds and Silence" the composer Arvo Part exhorts a choir to "Just sing. Not like in a concert hall or on a stage. Simply sing." That is what Petra Haden does on this latest masterwork from drummer Paul Motian: produce the most guileless, unaffected singing imaginable. It is as if someone has said to her, "Don't worry about trying to be a jazz singer. Just sing."
This album is further proof of the heights that music can reach when all concerns of style and prowess are discarded. More than any improvising musician alive, Motian is brave and instinctive enough to dispense with technical peripheries, and just play what the music demands, moment by moment.
Here he surrounds Haden with Bill Frisell's guitar and Thomas Morgan's bass, on material including standards, Motian compositions and a version of "Tennessee Waltz". The latter is not such a big surprise, given that Haden is the daughter of master-bassist Charlie Haden, and their whole family
is steeped in country music.
Her voice has a little-girl fragility, and when she turns it upon "The Windmills of Your Mind" the effect is like a dream. The song is delivered at a tempo so slow that it is barely in motion, allowing the full weight of the gorgeous lyric to be absorbed. She reaches inside the sultriness of "Lover Man", and brings its physical warmth to life. "Easy Living" becomes as blithe as a stroll through AA Milne's Hundred Acre Wood, and for the Gershwins' flirtatious "I've Got A Crush On You" she becomes coquettish, buoyed just by the gentle lapping of Frisell's guitar.
"I Loves You Porgy" has no trace of angst, and yet nor is it emotionally barren. Rather it is a celebration of the melody, as is "If I Could Be With You", which has an old-world coyness and gentility.
Haden's delivery could seem so naive as to be lame, did it not dovetail perfectly with the contexts. Motian's sparseness does not always equate with simplicity, as he lays rubato figures against a pulse that sometimes is held only by Haden's floating voice. He has said that he has retreated from the need to push boundaries, but he does it anyway, in his instinctive reaction to the music surrounding him.
Frisell shares Motian's ability to offer the most ingenuous response to a given musical situation. There is not a guitar solo in the traditional sense on the album, and yet Frisell's imprint is everywhere, whether in playing Motian's musical alter ego or in easing Haden's course through the music. He slides into thecountry strains of "Tennessee Waltz" with complete conviction, and elsewhere bridges abstractions with narrative, making it all glisten with the honesty of one who knows no other musical path but candour
Morgan is a revelation. It would be so easy for a bassist to mess up the chemistry between Motian and Frisell, but he actually thickens it. His sound is round and reassuring amid the fragility of the singing. The bass is also the main source of any little solos, and they are glorious affairs in which plump or keeningnotes hang in the air amid the rustle of drums and ripple of guitar.
John Shand - 10/9/11 The Age and Sydney Morning Herald
This is drums giant Paul Motian's 80th birthday album – though for a
legend who helped reinvent ensemble improv with visionaries such as Bill
Evans and Keith Jarrett, it might sound like a pipe-and-slippers
decision to hook it on such over-exercised tunes as the title, Tennessee
Waltz and Let's Face the Music and Dance.
But Motian enlists Bill
Frisell on guitar and Thomas Morgan on bass to turn the usual glides and
smooches of these songs into a lurching, spontaneously contrapuntal
undertow, in which the rhythm lies as much in what's not being played as
But over that, Motian has cannily placed the limpid, quietly
evocative voice of Charlie Haden's vocalist daughter Petra – an artist
more usually associated with alt-rock and a capella work.
imaginatively inhabits these songs, delivering a definitively
unvarnished version of the title track over Motian's snuffling brushwork
and Morgan's huge bass sound, and unfolding tenderly revealing accounts
of Easy Living and I Loves You Porgy. But hearing this inimitably
eccentric instrumental trio chime, boom and lurch through Let's Face the
Music and Dance is perhaps the real piece de resistance.
John Fordham - Guardian UK 4 stars
Lovely renditions of some classic songs - Petra Haden is sublime and the exquisite, understated accompaniment by the brilliant band is a thing of rare beauty. Highly recommended.
Limited Edition Hard Cover package. Only 2500 worldwide.
Paul Motian [drums]
Bill Frisell [guitar]
Petra Haden [vocals]
Thomas Morgan [bass]
1. Introduction (1) [Paul Motian]
2. Tennessee Waltz [Pee Wee King, Redd Stewart]
3. The Windmills Of Your Mind [Michel Legrand, Alan Bergman, Marilyn Bergman]
4. Let’s Face The Music And Dance [Irving Berlin]
5. Lover Man [Jimmy Davis, Roger Ramirez, James Sherman]
6. It’s Been A Long, Long Time [Jule Styne, Sammy Cahn]
7. Little Foot [Paul Motian]
8. Easy Living [Ralph Rainger, Leo Robin]
9. I’ve Got A Crush On You [George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin]
10. Backup [Paul Motian]
11. I Loves You Porgy [George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin]
12. Trieste [Paul Motian]
13. If I Could Be With You [James Johnson, Henry Creamer]
14. Wednesday’s Gone [Paul Motian]
15. I Remember You [Victor Schertzinger, Johnny Mercer]
16. Introduction (2) [Paul Motian ]
Recorded at Sear Sound, New York City, USA, September 2010
Recording, Editing and Mixing Engineer: Ron Saint Germain
Producer: Stefan Winter
from W+W :
In March 2011 Paul Motian celebrates his 80th birthday and Winter&Winter releases hisnew album »The Windmills Of Your Mind« with Bill Frisell (guitar), Thomas Morgan (bass) and Petra Haden (vocals).
The artistic collaboration with Bill Frisell and Thomas Morgan is a great musical gift for all lovers of Paul Motian's music. Singer Petra Haden, Charlie Haden's daughter, completes this new quartet. The production is not only a special musical event because Motion presents this quartet for the very first time but it is also unique because producer Stefan Winter works completely without any digital equipment and without any digital sound effects.
This album is an extraordinary live-to-analog-two-track production. The unique momentum of the musical performance is the theme and the focus. No digital post-processing is manipulating this
momentum of the art performance. The original analog tape is the one-and-only master. This is especially important as the authentic analogue sound is indispensable for high quality audio productions.
Winter & Winter will make "The Windmills Of Your Mind" available as as a limited CD-Hardcover-Edition mastered from analog tape directly to a 176.4 kHz / 24-bit digital master.
This album will be also available as a High-Fidelity- 180-g-Vinyl-Pressing in a strictly limited edition of 500 LPs.
We'll have stock of the Vinyl - not sure of the price yet. Stay tuned.