My wife is a Scrabble fanatic. She’s very, very good. I tried, when we first started going out, playing with her a couple times. She whupped me so bad, I quit. In one of our only games, I did something she teased me about for many years: I put down the letters “m-o-t-i-a-n”. “What’s that,” she said? “Motion”, I replied. “That’s not how it’s spelled!” she said, laughing in bewilderment at the obviously verbally challenged man-child opposite her. “Oh,” I said, feeling suddenly somewhat alone. “Well, to me it is.”
His name was beautiful, his sound was beautiful, his time was beautiful, and his songs were beautiful.
Were, are, is.
When Paul Motian spoke of Chick Webb, or Gene Krupa or, as in a short but memorable video youtu.be/dPfTjgc0wN4 Jimmy Crawford, he spoke of them as life changers, personal heroes, gods. Of course, that’s what Motian was to so many. For me he embodied everything I love about Jazz. For me he was someone who made getting older look like a real privilege. Someone who made improvising look easy, and yet masterful and elusive, somehow simultaneously.
Beauty, beauty, beauty. Swing, swing, swing.
Smile, surprise, sound, song.
Thank you Paul Motian. I’m sorry you didn’t get ten more years. Being on the road for sixty years takes its toll. But you gave and gave and gave, and your music is one of our communities’ most treasured possessions.