By BEN RATLIFF NY Times
The cause was complications of myelodisplastic syndrome, a bone-marrow disorder, said his friend, Carole d’Inverno Frisell.
Mr. Motian was a living connection to some of the groups of the past that informed what jazz sounds like today: he had been in Bill Evans’s great trio in the late 1950s and early 1960s, playing on the albums “Waltz for Debby” and “Sunday at the Village Vanguard,” and in Keith Jarrett’s American quartet during the 1970s. But it was in the second half of his life that Mr. Motian found himself as a composer and a bandleader, and his own work took off.
He worked steadily, and for the last six years or so almost entirely in Manhattan, with the support of the record producers Stefan Winter and Manfred Eicher, who streamed out his albums, and Lorraine Gordon of the Village Vanguard, who eventually booked his groups for up to four or five weeks per year.
Then there were the many musicians he played with regularly, including the saxophonist Joe Lovano and the guitarist Bill Frisell, with whom he kept a working trio; the pianist Masabumi Kikuchi and the saxophonists Greg Osby and Chris Potter, with whom he played in trios and quartets; the members of the Electric Bebop Band, with multiple electric guitars, which in 2006 became the Paul Motian Band; and dozens of other musicians, from young unknowns to old masters.
For almost all of his bands, his repertory was a combination of terse and mysterious originals he composed at the piano, American songbook standards, and music from the bebop tradition: Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, Charles Mingus.
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