Paul Motian's ON BROADWAY VOL. 3--which includes takes on standards like Jerome Kern's "The Way You Look Tonight" and Irving Berlin's "How Deep Is the Ocean"-- is sophisticated post-bop jazz. But that's a simplistic assessment, as the sensitivity, nuance, and subtle experimentalism of the musicianship make this a case study in contemporary jazz of the first order. While melody is often paramount, and there are none of the cacophonous squawks usually associated with avant jazz, the musicians play off each other with edgy precision, creating swirling rhythms within rhythms, upending harmonic possibilities, and rooting through phrases to find their hidden secrets.
That the ensemble is able to balance these two extremes--the "straight" and the experimental--so perfectly is no surprise given that the musicians are giants in the genre. Guitarist Bill Frisell, bassist Charlie Haden, and saxophonists Joe Lovano and Lee Konitz display such a deep structural understanding of this music and such a stunning group telepathy that they completely reinvent these old chestnuts. Motian's abstract conception of time (nicely heard in his ethereal cymbal patterns) and Frisell's shimmering guitar keeps this masterful set miles removed from a standard bop date, as do Lovano and Konitz's solos.