Having been Bill Evans' drummer during the pianist's prime early-'60s period, Paul Motian is the right person to record an Evans tribute album, a recording that fits right in with Motian's spate of jazz repertory releases (Monk in Motian, the On Broadway series).
But the obligatory nature of the record ends there, as Motian, tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano, guitarist Bill Frisell, and bassist Marc Johnson turn in an innovative set, using Evans' rich harmonic and rhythmic structures to launch many inspired solos. And being sensitive to Evans' subtle and intimate piano style, the group opts for a fairly straightforward tonal attack: Frisell forgoes his usual hyper-eclectic approach for some unadorned jazz soloing, while Lovano sticks to the middle register of his horn.
For his part, Motian keeps the swing supple enough to be unobtrusive, while adding choice accents throughout. Highlights include the exquisite ballads "Turn Out the Stars" and "Very Early," a somewhat free-form reading of "Five," and the elegiac rendition of "Play Song." This is one of the best releases of the handful Motian has done with Lovano and Frisell, and certainly as fine a tribute record as there is. For fans of both Bill Evans and Paul Motian.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Cook
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