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Jazz Pianist - Composer


New York City Jazz Record  ~  September 2012

Drum Music

Russ Lossing (Sunnyside)

by Ken Waxman

Moving from a physical expression of Motian’s skills to his talents as a composer is Drum Music, a solo CD by pianist Russ Lossing, who played with Motian on-and-off over a 12-year period. As weighty in his interpretation as Kikuchi is buoyant in his, Lossing’s unrelenting attack is as dynamic as it is respectful. With Motian’s favorite writing tempo mid or slower, the 10 tracks are interpreted in high recital fashion. Linear, precise and often magisterial, Lossing strives to extract every nuance out of every measure. A tune such as “Gang of Five”, for instance, encompasses basso rumbles, abrasive internal string plucks and soundboard echoes. When the animated theme finally appears so do affiliated variants. A tune such as “Mumbo Jumbo” confines itself to the piano’s lowest registers until jittery syncopation ends it while “Dance” unfolds a lyrical line and percussive stops simultaneously, with every key stroke and string scrape precisely balanced. However, not every track is as slowly paced. The title tune cascades flashily and kinetically as cumulative chording pumps up the narrative. In contrast, hints of a Latin beat poke through “Fiasco”, with the lively melody rappelling up the scale and key pounding characterizing the finale.

Conceived as an 80th birthday tribute to Motian, circumstances meant that Drum Music appears as a posthumous tribute. But considering Motian’s fragile health in the past few years could there be a premonition in Lossing’s funereal pacing of “Last Call” here? Restrained, romantic and reverberating, the playing - and melody - could serve as a threnody for Motian and his lifetime of work as superlative drummer and cunning composer.