By the beginning of 21st century, some forty years after he initially gained fame as a part of the legendary Bill Evans Trio, Paul Motian had long been established as an important bandleader in his own right, recording prolifically for both ECM and Winter & Winter. The group heard on this recording, referred to as "Trio 2000 + Two," includes pianist Masabumi Kikuchi and bassist Larry Grenadier (the latter long associated with Brad Mehldau), plus saxophonists Greg Osby and Chris Potter. One well-known work, Tadd Dameron's "If You Could See Me Now," opens with Kikuchi's subdued, extended solo, though the character of the piece quickly becomes turbulent with the full band's entry, sounding little like the usual arrangements of this jazz favorite. The remaining tracks are all Motian originals, demanding pieces that border on avant-garde jazz and keep the players on their toes. Motian has long stated a preference for playing for the band as opposed to soloing himself and he excels throughout in powering his musicians to reach the summit of their abilities. This is easily some of Paul Motian's most challenging music as a leader, while the Village Vanguard audience was obviously transfixed with the performances, as they remain very quiet to soak in every nuance of them.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden