Swapping Styles: Paul Motian, Local Jazz

Two upcoming Bay Area concerts will feature people interpreting the music of others in creative ways.

First Thing Of Two: The Makeout Room in San Francisco is hosting what the musicians are calling Festivus 2012, or The Festival of Us — a two-day festival where local jazz bands will pay each other’s music on Sunday, Dec. 2 and Monday, Dec. 3.

I love this idea.  It’s a gig not just for the bands, but also for the compositions. I’ve always thought it a shame that jazz and classical compositions, which can take a lot of work to formulate and execute, don’t get performed or heard to the extent that they could.

Rather than list who’s playing, I’ll tell you whose songs will be played: Beep, Bristle, Aaron Novik, and Wiener Kids on Night 1.  Nice Guy Trio, Ramon and Jessica, Lisa Mezzacappa’s Bait & Switch, and the Darren Johnston Quintet on Night 2.

Second Thing Of Two: The next “X v. Y” concert, where Bay Area musicians interpret the music of past greats, will have a Paul Motian theme. The Michael J. Dale Quartet will play the music of Keith Jarrett’s ’70s quartet that featured Motian. And the Karl Evangelista/Jordan Glenn Group will play a set of Motian’s music. Jordan Glenn’s group, Mindless Thing, will close out the evening.

That’s Weds., Nov. 28 at Berkeley Arts. More specifics here. Sounds like a great chance to revel in some rich jazz of the relatively recent past, seen through a current, youthful lens.

What It All Means:  … to me, anyway: I won’t know all of the compositions being played, so there’s a level of appreciation that will be a little bit out of my reach. No matter. What I said above is true: I love the idea that these compositions will be aired and heard, that they’ll be given life in new hands.

I’m especially hoping to catch at least one of the Festivus shows. Sounds like a nice gathering for local musicians in general. And I think it would be nice, later, to retrace the steps of some of the pieces, or discover others in their real form for the first time.

That goes for the Jarrett and Motian compositions, too. They’re certainly more thoroughly documented, but how often do I get to hear them live? Pretty much never. (Although if I spent more time in mainstream-jazz circles, I might encounter the occasional Motian cover.) The X v. Y exercise is meant to channel non-obvious gems of the jazz heritage through local musicians’ talents. It’s a worthwhile cause.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s