Russ Lossing         home   recordings   press   performances   bio   photos   links

Jazz Pianist - Composer


CultureCreature   2012

Richard B. Kamins

Pianist Russ Lossing entered the studio in March of 2011 and recorded the 10 tracks on his new CD, "Drum Music: Music of Paul Motian" (Sunnyside Records).  The pianist had worked and recorded with the drummer (who passed in November of 2011) on numerous occasions over the past 15 years, playing all of the material that makes up this program.  Those listeners familiar with Motian's work, especially his music with Joe Lovano and Bill Frissell, know that the drummer/composer had no use for clutter or filigree, going straight to the heart of his music.  To his credit, Lossing plays pieces from throughout Motian's long career, opening the program with "Conception Vessel", the title track of the drummer's 1972 ECM debut.  One canj hear the influence of Motian's employer at the time, Keith Jarrett, in the song's long-flowing lines and rolling rhythms.  "It Should Have Happened a Long Time Ago", a composition that dates from 1985, juxtaposes sound and silence in such a way that the melody line as well as the tension is heightened throughout the 8+ minutes.  "Gang of Five" starts inside the piano, the dampened strings and sustained notes slowly giving way to the exquisite melody that moves like a person lost in thought walking unaware through crowded streets.

"Mumbo Jumbo" moves forward with purpose on a rolling left hand while "Dance" sounds like a work for a modern choreographer, the rapid right hand melody darting about the strident and striding left hand. The title track is much more melodic than percussive; although the version Motian recorded with Jason Moran and Chris Potter for 2010's "Lost In A Dream" opens with a drum solo, Lossing moves right into the melody line and builds the piece from there, building the intensity and speed as the song flies forward.

Throughout "Drum Music", one is acutely aware of how Paul Motian, the composer, communicated his ideas in his originals.  Many of these pieces move in unexpected directions yet never seem foreign or forced.  What one might think of as simplicity in Motian's drumming or melodic ideas or, for that fact, in his approach towards the standards he played so often is anything but.  The drummer/composer enjoyed melody and eschewed "showing off his chops" - Russ Lossing, an excellent technician, plays with purpose and not "for show".  He pays homage to Paul Motian by making these pieces his own, making the melodies and rhythmic ideas stand out.  As with Denny Zeitlin's "Wherever You Are", "Drum Music" should be listened to at night, in a dimly lit room, with no distractions.  There is beauty in the softer passages, power in the more intense moments and heightened sense of creativity at all times.