Drummer Paul Motian has been in some of history’s most cutting-edge jazz bands: Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra, Carla Bley, Paul Bley and Mose Allison. Since 1972, he’s been a leader on his own impressive pile of platters for ECM, Soul Note and JMT. His JMT stuff was out of print until Winter & Winter began recently restoring them to circulation - Live In Tokio (their spelling - really) is one such. This disc marked the 10-year point of this particular Motian combo, a trio with Joe Lovano and Bill Frisell, who’d also played with PM in his Quintet. The Motian trio had a unique style: frequently sparse because of no keyboards, bassist and/or other horn player(s), yet Frisell, with his dense cushion of texture and judicious use of effects and Lovano, with his massive bear-hug of a tone (echoes of Wayne Shorter, Gene Ammons and Joe Henderson), fill things out to where no other instruments are missed. Motian can play drums the way Bill Evans played piano, with amazing dexterity and lyrical grace, and he can and does thunder. His compositions frequently meander, but in a good way - "loose-form" rather than free-form, drawing upon the somber, earthy lyricism of Ornette Coleman and Pat Metheny (whose co-composition "Kathelin Gray" is the sole cover here), never forsaking rhythm and harmony, though sometimes "suspending" them.... and when one might least expect it, Frisell makes with some dark, biting, mondo-distorto sounds. Live... is not exactly first-disc-of-the-day music, but for introspective-yet-not-mellow-moods, it’s a great companion.