When I heard the news that Paul Motian died, I was stunned. Somehow it took me by surprise. I was surprised even having heard that his health was not good and he had cancelled some gigs. Even with that knowledge it still seemed as if he would come back. I even hoped he would start touring again and that I could convince the Reykjavik Jazz Festival to bring him here. It seemed as if he would always be there.
Even more than the surprise I felt over the news was my surprise at my own reaction. I've been doing this long enough to see the passing of many of my heroes, but hearing this news was different… and at first I didn't know why.
It felt as if I'd lost someone I knew, yet I'd never met Motian, not even briefly. Of course I'd seen him play on countless occasions, but while I was able to summon the courage to introduce myself to other drummers I admired, Motian seemed untouchable. His dark sunglasses and the fact that he barely ever spoke onstage certainly factored into that. Yet for all his mysterious aloofness, somehow he connected with me in a way that was deeper than I ever knew. Continue reading »