November 2011 Archives
Aside from his prowess as a drummer, his restless need to invent on the bandstand and his compassionate embrace of musical partners young and old, famous and not, Paul Motian, who died very early this morning at 80, was a real person. The kind you need to meet and sit with a while to understand. And then you get up and leave, feeling better and wiser in ways you can't yet process. Motian didn't want to meet with me for the July Cultural Conversation piece I wrote about him for The Wall Street Journal back in July. His stalwart and wonderful publicist, Tina Pelikan, finessed my way in. Motian told me up front how unhappy he was with his decision to do another interview. ("What haven't I said yet?") Then, two hours later, I could scarcely get him to stop his soft-spoken, stop-start, painterly flow of words, which were not entirely unlike his drumming.
I don't know if I'll write anything new in commemoration of Motian's life and career. I do know that I'm reflecting on it today, and that I welcome any news of memorial concerts or gatherings. Here's that Journal piece again: