Paul Motian’s death stopped this album in its tracks. Guitarist Ben Monder had planned it to be duets with the master-drummer, to which end a session in late 2010 generated two astounding tracks. Motian died before they could return to the project, but thankfully Monder did not abandon it, instead creating some solo guitar pieces of astonishing beauty, two duets with another lion of jazz drumming in Andrew Cyrille, and some trios with Cyrille and synthesizer player Pete Rende.
Monder and Motian were made for each other with their love of establishing atmosphere with the tiniest musical gestures, much as a great painter might do with minimal brush-strokes. On Oh, What a Beautiful Morning (from Oklahoma) they eliminate the song’s blitheness in favour of a startling evocation of the drama of dawn, with streaming effects from the guitar and primal drumming. Fans of Motian’s late-period abstraction must hear this. Cyrille also opts for texture-oriented minimalism, and is superb in cross-hatching the shadows of Monder’s extraordinary and often forlorn imaginative flights.