Picks and Pans Review: The Story of Maryam

UPDATED 07/30/1984 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 07/30/1984 at 01:00 AM EDT

Paul Motian

Motian, the drummer with the original Bill Evans Trio and Keith Jarrett's first trio, grew up in an Armenian family in Providence, R.I., where he was raised by three women—his mother, Rebica, and her two sisters, Victoria and Maryam. With this album's title cut he has now completed a composition for each of them. His tribute to Maryam is built on a simple, lilting theme, very intimate, suggesting a dancing, fanciful sense of play and wonder. The instruments—soprano and tenor saxophones, electric guitar, bass and drums—seem to sing and move weightlessly like spirits of pure memory. It's an especially affecting conclusion to one of the year's most distinctive avant-garde jazz recordings. Thanks in large part to Bill Frisell's billowing, quavering electric guitar, the album casts an intense spell. Saxophonists Joe Lovano (a Mel Lewis and Woody Herman veteran) and Jim Pepper (an American Indian from Oregon) are imposing, full-voiced players, yet paradoxically, their labyrinthine rides only enhance the album's mood of reflection and searching. A fluid, strikingly creative drummer, Motian is also a composer whose new album is replete and unfettered, yet simple and touching. (Soul Note)

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