Some music has so much poise it simply radiates. Even in the most turbulent moments of the many discs that Paul Motion's trio has made, there's a signature glow that lets you know grace is fueling the creativity at hand. The group's agility, reminiscent in some poetic ways of Air and Wayne Horvitz's Nine Below Zero group, begets an extraordinary balance on their second ECM disc in 20 years. As I Have The Room Above Her unfolds, it proves to be testament to elegance.

Figuring out a group dynamic came early to Bill Frisell, Joe Lovano and the 74-year-old drummer -leader. Their
It Should Have Happened A Long Time Ago debut contained all the seeds that blossomed on their remarkable string of JMT titles during the late '80's. Whether interpreting Broadway or respinning Thelonious Monk and Bill Evans, their eccentric version of swing and sophisticated notion of interplay were based on a supple geometry that let each member have a say in the equation. The Motion-penned miniatures on the new disc are even more refined. A well-rounded symmetry gives this intricate music a blithe feel, and when matched with some of the eerie and reflective melodies, it creates a form of dreamy abstraction that's unparalleled on the modern jazz scene.

From the two takes of "Osmosis" to the Jerone Kern/Oscar Hammerstein title tune, the tone is one
of sentiment.  There are animated moments, but Motion's writing is more wistful than ever. Lovano's Ben Websterism's help give this mood a corporeal feel: his lines are about as rich as they come, and all that blood balances the ghosts in Frisell's machine. The pair strikes a keen equilibrium on "Odd Man Out." As the saxaphonist peeks out the head in single notes a la Monk's "Just A Gigolo," the guitarist swirls around him, dropping misty chords and curlicue pharses. It's modern balladry at it idiosyncratic best.

Like the Modern Jazz Quartet, another looming forebear that did wonders with hushed material, Motion's skelton crew has a way of giving chamber music an orchestral patina. I can't think of another active ensemble who luster is so enchanting. - Jim Macnie
Downbeat's March 2005 Review of
Paul Motion/Bill Frisell/Joe Lovano
I Have The Room Above Her
ECM # 3966
Four Stars