Paul Motian’s cymbals have gone silent. Sadly I didn’t stay in touch, even though he invited me to. Here are more rare, unseen photos of the late Paul Motian, who died November 22, 2011 (courtesy the T Bruce Wittet collection). And listen to the master discuss cymbals….

Paul Motian, as I reported earlier, died earlier today, November 22, 2011. Here is a rare tribute: unpublished shots of Paul taken March 15, 2006 at Birdland, New York City plus unseen interview excerpts. Paul talks about timbres, tones, and his sound, particularly those cymbals….

Paul Motian, died November 2011, shown playing at Birdland in 2006

Paul Motian and Arild Andersen, Birdland, 2006

The first night I saw Paul at Birdland accompanying Bobo Stenson, he defiantly used the house drums and cymbals. He complained a little and I told him I yearned for those cymbals. I’m convinced that the weight of my interest caused him to bring his favorites next night (on my birthday! His was a week hence) and he proudly holds up the one he used on his brilliant take of “Milestones” with Bill Evans.

In this text snippet, he describes the others he brought in his cymbal bag. Interview copyright 2006 ,T Bruce Wittet:

The hi-hats are 15”. The bottom is an old Zildjian army cymbal and the top is a Paiste cymbal that was formerly a bottom cymbal. The cymbal that I’ve had for a thousand years is an A. Zildjian 20” with rivets. I don’t even know where or how I got it, but I’ve had that cymbal forever. That’s the one you’ve heard with Bill Evans on all those albums. It developed a crack at the edge and I talked to a lot of people on how to save it. I think it might have been Joe Cusatis who suggested that I cut out the part that was cracked and then trim it in a circular way, finally sanding the edge down. I’m still using the cymbal and it’s good. It’s not like it was new but it’s pretty effective. I love that cymbal. They said if I didn’t cut out that crack, the cymbal would keep on cracking and I’d lose it.

Paul Motian with ride cymbal at Birdland, 2006

Paul Motian holds that special, old A Zildjian w/ chunk cut out by Joe Cusatis

The other cymbal is a 22” Paiste Dark Ride. I’ve got a few of those….Paiste has been good to me and they’ve given me a lot of cymbals and gongs. Some of the cymbals they make are really good. That (original) Dark Ride was a 602. The one I’m using tonight at Birdland, I put rivets into, and it’s a later Sound Creation Dark Ride.”