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Music In Motian

Music In Motian Release Date April 20, 2018


Mode VI

In The Year Of The Dragon


The music of drummer/composer Paul Motian is revered in certain circles of jazz, while resting in obscurity among others. The performing credits of Motian run deep and are extensive, but as a author of highly original music, he lies in the under-documented category. This will not last much longer as, in the years since his passing, his followers are carrying the torch, one such notable being guitarist Carl Michel.

Michel (pronounced Michael) has recognized the contributions of Paul Motian, and he has re-created a complete repertoire of his music. Ann Arbor-based jazz guitarist and composer Michel now has recorded a compendium of Motian’s music played with expert musicians from Southeastern Michigan, a one-of-a-kind tribute to Paul Motian’s music, with adaptations and extrapolations akin to the fertile musical mind Michael is inspired by.

The late drummer Paul Motian was an icon not only among his fellow percussionists but as a composer in his own right.  In addition to performing with his own group, he performed with the great pianist Bill Evans’ trio and the legendary Keith Jarrett-led mid-70s small ensemble, while working sidebar gigs with Charlie Haden and Bill Frisell and recording for the Nonesuch, ECM and Winter & Winter labels, among others. Motian became important in many additional ways as a mentor and unique presence in modern jazz.

In his research on and recording of Motian’s music, Michel discovered a blog of Cindy McGuirl, Paul Motian’s niece, who has self-publishing a book, “The Compositions of Paul Motian Volume 1 1973-1989.” Volume 2 of Motian’s compositions will be out early 2018. Her blog, titled “Uncle Paul’s Jazz Closet,” has podcasts of radio shows that she curates featuring her uncle’s music.

As far as Michels’ connection to Paul Motian’s music, it goes back to his early interest in jazz. “I got information from record stores – the first record I had was a Wes Montgomery/Milt Jackson album, then Ralph Towner and Gary Burton. I liked the ECM label and the sound. I fell into John Abercrombie and Pat Metheny pretty hard, but I found a promo copy of Dance by Paul Motian on ECM, and at first I didn’t get it, but I loved the spacious sound, and there was no other drummer so unique. I got acquainted with Keith Jarrett’s American Quartet and Quintet. But it was Paul Motian’s Live In Tokyo that really turned the light on, and I realized so much in his music – elements of Thelonious Monk, Eastern European music and Ornette Coleman coming together in his writing – and it hit a peak.”

“I tried to get in touch with him, wrote to the record label – his music is not in The Real Book – and he graciously sent me 10-12 copies of his music. There’s a lot of depth, and you see how the writing is becoming stronger. By then, he was not touring, only playing in New York, and I went to the Village Vanguard to hear him, Bill Frisell and Joe Lovano. It was religious and mesmerizing. After he passed away in 2011, I was able to meet others through the internet who were interested in his music and had copies and was able to exchange music with them. I wrote his music administrator to see if I could get more, was able to, and did the recording project of which I’m proud.”

Now, as a definitive statement, the music of Paul Motian is available to the world through the keen lens of Carl Michel for all the world to hear, listen to, and deeply enjoy.

1 India 6:42
2 Mode VI 5:57
3 In The Year Of The Dragon 5:37
4 Abacus 5:23
5 Birdsong 1:14
6 Osmosis 3:55
7 From Time To Time 3:50
8 Arabesque 4:08
9 It Should Have Happened A Long Time Ago 4:52
10 Circle Dance 3:49

All Compositions By Paul Motian © Yazgol Music-BMI

Carl Michel – Guitar
Mick Dobday – Piano
Dan Kolton – Bass
Alex Trajano – Drums

Recorded in 2013 & 2014
Solid Sound, Eric Wojahn, Engineer
Additional Recording at Tempermill Studios, Tony Hamera, Engineer
Mixed & Mastered at Solid Sound, Eric Wojahn, Engineer
Produced By Carl Michel
Front Cover Photo by Matthew Sussman
Back Cover Photo by Brent Bacher
Package Design by Stephaine Layton
©℗Play On Records 2018
Play On Records 1003-2

The Carl Michel Group

The Carl Michel Group (+) at Bandcamp
The Carl Michel Group (+) at cdbaby
The Carl Michel Group (+) at iTunes
The Carl Michel Group (+) at Google Play
The Carl Michel Group (+) at Amazon
The Carl Michel Group (+) at allmusic.com
All Tunes Composed By Carl Michel Tex Carmichael Music BMI
Carl Michel-Guitar, Gerald Clever-Drums, Michael Graye-Alto Sax, Tim Flood-Bass, Andrew Bishop-Tenor Sax & Clarinet, Ellen Rowe-Piano, Paul Finkbeiner-Trumpet, Chris Smith-Trombone



1) Les Can

2) Skippin’

3) Jitterbug

4) Cold Pizza

The Carl Michel Group CD at Bandcamp
The Carl Michel Group CD at cdbaby
The Carl Michel Group at iTunes
The Carl Michel Group at Google Play
The Carl Michel Group at Amazon
The Carl Michel Group at allmusic.com
All tunes by Carl Michel-Tex Carmichael Music BMI
Carl Michel-Guitar, Gerald Cleaver-Drums, Michael Graye-Alto Sax and Tim Flood-Bass


Carl Michel started playing music at an early age, beginning with cornet in school band.  In high school, I switched to guitar and was inspired by many rock and blues guitarists.  Later, his interests shifted towards jazz and he eventually went to Berklee College of Music (1977-1979).  In 1980, I moved to Austin, TX and became a co-founder of “The Creative Opportunity Orchestra”, a large ensemble dedicated to performing new compositions, with vocalist Tina Marsh.  In 1983, he moved to Madison, WI, where he was actively involved with the Madison Music Collective.  Today he lives in Ann Arbor, MI, where he continues to teach, compose and perform. Carl has received two Emmy awards for Music Composition/Arrangement from The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences-Lower Great Lakes Chapter, one in 2004 and one in 2008, for his work on the documentary “Dark & Shadow, The Mystery of Beverly Potts” and the series “Doris O’Donnell’s Cleveland.” In 1990, The Carl Michel Trio recording, “Food Of Love,” was selected as Editor’s Choice: New Releases, by Cadence Magazine.

Contact & Credits

send email to carlmichel(at)carlmichel.com

Photos by Sudeep Studio

Cover Photo to Music In Motian by Matthew Sussman

Back Cover Photo to Music In Motian and Carl Michel Group Photo by Brent Bacher

Photos for The Carl Michel Group CD Jim Aho

All Compositions To Music In Motian by Paul Motian Yazgol Music BMI

All Other Compositions by Carl Michel Tex Carmichael Music BMI