JJ 11/73: Paul Motian – Conception Vessel

Fifty years ago Martin Davidson was disappointed by the uninspiring material and lack of involvement on drummer Motian's leader debut. First published in Jazz Journal November 1973


Considering Paul Motian’s fine work in the past with Bill Evans and Paul Bley, the first record under his own leadership comes as a great disappointment. He generally plays well, but none of his material nor his sidemen seem to present him with much inspiration.

Side one consists of two overlong features for Sam Brown’s and Charlie Haden’s flamenco and semi-rock bags, separated by a short burst of meaningless drumming. The overall feeling is that all three musicians were just coasting with very little involvement.

Side two opens with a typical Keith Jarrett piano outing, which, like all other public orgasms, is rather boring for the onlooker. He then adds insult to the American Indian’s multiple injuries by playing some flute which makes even his piano playing sound good.

The album finally comes to life on the last track, which features a strong four way dialogue throughout its (almost) ten minutes. This is, however, of by no means exceptional value, and therefore not worth the price of the record.

(a) Georgian Bay; (b) Ch’i Energy; (a) Rebica (21¼ min) – (c) Conception Vessel; (c) American Indian: Song Of Sitting Bull; (d) Inspiration From A Vietnamese Lullaby (20¼ min)
(a) Sam Brown (gtr); Charlie Haden (bs): Paul Motian (perc).
(b) Motian (solo perc).
(c) Keith Jarrett (pno/flt); Motian (perc).
(d) Becky Friend (flt); Leroy Jenkins (vln); Charlie Haden (bs); Motian (perc).
All recorded NYC. 25-26/11/72.
(ECM1028ST £2.45)