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William C. Altreuter
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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Last night Terry Gross had Paul Motian on. I have wanted to pick up on the trio work he has been doing with Bill Frizzel and Joe Lovano for some time, but I think first this.

Watching Matt Wilson last Sunday I continued to think about why drummers are good leaders in jazz. Rock'n'roll bands fronted by drummers are awful, and it doesn't happen at all in other forms, but there are any number of great jazz bands where the timekeeper is the main man. Part of this has to do, I think, with the way a good drummer frames what everyone else on the stand is doing. After Fresh Air was over I listened to some Bill Evans, and it is certainly true that when he worked with Motian (and LaFaro)he had a dimension that was unique. That trio almost sounds like a single instrument, and, like all great jazz, absolutely sounds like they are all thinking together.

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