I Have The Room Above Her

Paul Motian, Bill Frisell, Joe Lovano

CD18,90 out of print
Featured Artists Recorded

April 2004, Avatar Studios, New York

Original Release Date


  • 1Osmosis Part III
    (Paul Motian)
  • 2Sketches
    (Paul Motian)
  • 3Odd Man out
    (Paul Motian)
  • 4Shadows
    (Paul Motian)
  • 5I Have The Room Above Her
    (Jerome Kern, Oscar Hammerstein)
  • 6Osmosis Part I
    (Paul Motian)
  • 7Dance
    (Paul Motian)
  • 8Harmony
    (Paul Motian)
  • 9The Riot Act
    (Paul Motian)
  • 10The Bag Man
    (Paul Motian)
  • 11One In Three
    (Paul Motian)
  • 12Dreamland
    (Thelonious Monk)
New York Times, Critic’s Choice
Jazz Magazine, Disques d’émoi
Les Inrockuptibles, Ecouté et approuvé
La Liberté, Coup de cœur
Stereoplay, Die Audiophile
The spontaneous interplay between the musicians is just phenomenal. Motian’s drums deal with texture and colour, and he’s often hinting at rhythms which are way off centre, but somehow place an authoritative stamp on the music. Frisell’s guitar chimes with admirable restraint, and he never resorts to that somewhat turgid electric guitar style he’s best known for. Meanwhile, Lovano’s sax snakes around the melodies with luxurious ease.
Since the 1950s Motian has played on key sessions with, among others, Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett and Geri Allen. I Have The Room Above Her capitalises on this legacy, while developing an entirely new voice. A brilliant record.
Richard Wolfson, Daily Telegraph
The drummer’s trademark fluidity in his approach to time and pulse would be enough to ensure that in itself, and the combination of instruments serves to underline the airy, abstract feel of much of the music. The ear quickly adjusts to the lack of a solid grounding instrument, and their interplay is never less than fascinating, whether applied on standards or original material. At times the effect is almost one of triple counterpoint, with everyone playing simultaneous melody. Lovano’s romanticism both contrasts and complements Frisell’s spacey, unconventional guitar work, while Motian weaves around and beneath both players, wrapping the music in a lattice of strong but delicate percussion.
Kenny Mathieson, Jazzwise
Some music has so much poise it simply radiates. Even in the most turbulent moments of the many discs that Paul Motian’s trio has made, there’s a signature glow that lets you know grace is fuelling the creativity at hand. … 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 Motian-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.
Jim Macnie, DownBeat
Paul Motian, Bill Frisell und Joe Lovano haben einen Grad von Magie erreicht, der einem unglaublich erscheint. ... Dass Paul Motian nicht nur ein absoluter Ausnahmeschlagzeuger ist, sondern auch ein begnadeter Komponist, wird hier einmal mehr deutlich.
Rolf Thomas, Jazzthetik
Motian gilt als der musikalischste aller Drummer, als Komponist ist er fast so bedeutend wie als Schlagwerker. Seine wichtigste Qualität ist, sich fast verschwinden zu lassen – nur scheinbar ein Triumph der Bescheidenheit. In Wahrheit verwirklicht er sich durch das, was er bei seinen Partnern bewirkt, induziert und provoziert. Die erleben das, wie der Gitarrist Bill Frisell, als „eine der herausforderndsten und inspirierendsten musikalischen Situationen“ überhaupt. ... Spielen mit Motian macht süchtig, die Regeneration in seinen rhythmischen Räumen brauchen die beiden wie andere den meditativen Rückzug ins Kloster. ...
I Have The Room Above Her ist das besonders überzeugende Statement einer Allstar-Band, in der sich keener wie ein Star benimmt. Musik wie eine Heimkehr, unerhört und doch vertraut, mit dem elegischen Glanz von Lovanos Tenor über den Föhnpanoramen von Frisells leicht vergifteten Gitarrenharmonien. Zum Heulen, zum Lachen, zum Staunen.
Peter Rüedi, Weltwoche
Obwohl Paul Motian als Autor erscheint, sind seine zehn Stücke, zu denen sich neben der “Show Boat”-Nummer noch Theleonious Monks “Dreamland” gesellt, in ihrer Intensität eindeutig als Gemeinschaftswerke zu verstehen. Bill Frisell webt mit zauberhafter Leichtigkeit melodische Glanztaten in die weltverlorenen Strukturen von Paul Motian, dessen Besen völlig losgelöst von Metren über die Trommeln wischen. Dazu gesellt sich Joe Lovanos Saxophon, unverwechselbar in seinem reichen Klangvolumen, das in unglaublicher Gelassenheit strahlt. Hier gilt: Die Summe ist mehr als die Addition ihrer Teile, das Ergebnis ein kleines Meisterstück.
Sven Thielmann, Stereoplay
I Have The Room Above Her ist eine Heimkehr. Im April trafen sich Motian, Frisell, Lovano mit Eicher im New Yorker Avatar Studio. Und sie klingen wie immer exquisit. Frisells sensible Akkorde und Single Notes stützen Lovanos raue Klang-Expeditionen. Überhaupt stehen alle drei gleichberechtigt für ein Gruppenkonzept ein, dass sich schwerlich in Leader und Sidemen aufteilen ließe. Da kann eher von magischen Instrumental-Farben die Rede sein, von schwebenden Klangwolken, von verschwenderischen Einfällen und Kreuzungen. Und trotz aller Leichtigkeit klingt das Trio geerdet: Lovano überbläst Passagen, Frisell packt den Hardcore-Sound auf sein Fußpedal, Motian kennt das Druckmittel seines Sets.
... Es ist ein Fest der Sinne, das sich da auftut. Ein Ereignis, großartig, weit mehr als ein einmaliger Ohrenreiz.
Tilman Urbach, Fono Forum
“Paul Motian, Bill Frisell and Joe Lovano have celebrated solo careers, but when they unite a special magic occurs, a marvel of group empathy” – The New Yorker

"I Have The Room Above Her" marks the return of Paul Motian to ECM, the label that first provided a context for his compositions and his musical directions. The great American-Armenian drummer, now in his 74th year, is currently at a creative peak, and his trio, launched in 1984 with the ECM album "It Should Have Happened A Long Time Ago", has never sounded better. Motian, of course, has continued to be an important contributor to ECM recordings over the years -- see for instance his recent work with Marilyn Crispell and with Paul Bley - but hasn't recorded as a leader for the label in almost 20 years. His anthology in ECM’s Rarum series, however, released at the beginning of 2004, served as a powerful reminder of just how original his musical concept remains. As a drummer, improviser, composer of intensely lyrical melodies, and musical thinker, Paul Motian is a unique figure, and a musician of vast and varied experience.

As a young man, he played with Thelonious Monk, whose idiosyncratic sense of swing (and stubborn independence from all prevailing trends) was to be a lifelong influence. Motian played with Coleman Hawkins, with Lennie Tristano, with Sonny Rollins, even, fleetingly, with John Coltrane. As a member of the Bill Evans trio with Scott La Faro, he changed the course of modern jazz, then changed it again by bringing new impulses to the freer, more abstract music of Paul Bley. When he met ECM producer Manfred Eicher, he was the drummer with Keith Jarrett's trio with Charlie Haden, soon to become, with the addition of Dewey Redman, Jarrett’s great “American Quartet” , another unit of seminal importance in the development of creative music. Encouraged by Eicher to write his own pieces, Motian drew upon both his jazz history and his Armenian/Turkish roots, developing a unique body of material subsequently delineated on albums including "Conception Vessel" (the first album issued under his name), "Tribute", "Dance", "Le Voyage”, "Psalm" and more. (Marilyn Crispell’s 2004 ECM album “Storyteller” was also largely devoted to Motian’s writing).

“Psalm”, a Motian quintet disc from 1981, introduced many listeners to the exceptional talents of guitarist Bill Frisell and saxophonist Joe Lovano, both of whom had yet to release albums under their own names. Meanwhile long-established as two of the most creative improvisers anywhere, multiple poll-winners, prolific recording artists and ensemble leaders in their own right, they have been loyal to Motian through the years, putting aside time for the trio, keen to keep their special group understanding alive. Bill Frisell still insists that "the Paul Motian Trio is one of the most rewarding and inspiring musical situations I have ever been in".

In the New York Sun, Will Friedwald wrote that while “lots of drummers are about power and energy, Mr Motian is about supporting a soloist with exquisite colouration and holding an ensemble together. In this case, this is an especially tricky task, since there is no piano or bass, and Mr Frisell does just about everything but lay down conventional chord patterns on his guitar." Motian’s understanding of “support”, however, is like no one else’s, his outflung net of percussion can catch or cushion a soloist, provide contrapuntal commentary (Motian is a decidedly ‘melodic’ drummer) or simply leave space for an idea to develop more fully. Nuance is everything, and sound, far more than “technique” is the impetus for the ways in which the music flowers.

And yet, whether a pulse is stated or otherwise, the music dances. Ben Ratliff in the New York Times observed that the trio’s music can be both “gentle” and “fractious”, capable of “dismantling a tune completely” while still retaining transparency at all times, as well as a poetic sense of swing. All these qualities are in evidence on “I Have The Room Above Her”; an album that is fresh, challenging, supremely assured.

Joe Lovano and Bill Frisell have grown immensely as players since Motian first took them under his wing. For many critics, Lovano now stands as the pre-eminent jazz tenorist of our time (a “saviour” of jazz according to Whitney Balliett in the New Yorker), Frisell an outstanding sonic explorer, an improviser whose work spans all the idioms that can be termed American. “I Have The Room Above Her” also happens to be Frisell’s first new ECM recording in almost a decade, after Kenny Wheeler’s “Angel Song” with Lee Konitz and Dave Holland.

The range of music on the new disc, recorded April 2004 in New York’s Avatar Studios, includes recent compositions by Motian, a revival of “Dance”, title track of a 1977 ECM album (with another great trio, with David Izenzon and Charles Brackeen), Thelonious Monk’s “Dreamland” and the Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein standard “I Have The Room Above Her”, written for the 1936 film version of the musical “Showboat”.

Several other recordings with Paul Motian are in the pipeline at ECM. These include a brand-new album with his Electric Bebop Band, trio albums with Enrico Rava and Stefano Bollani, and with Bobo Stenson and Anders Jormin, and a quartet album with English saxophonist Martin Speake.