Drummer Paul Motian is no stranger to experimental music. In his more than 50 years in jazz, he has drummed behind pianists as diverse as Thelonius Monk, Keith Jarrett and Bill Evans and in orchestras led by Carla Bley.
Now in his 70s, he has released "Garden of Eden," with an unusual configuration of his own. Two saxophones, three guitars, bass and drums may not become the prototype for groups in the future, but Motian finds the set-up is apt for graceful experimentalism. The three electric guitarists form a rich harmonic web, between which the saxes blast and warble. Through it all, Motian drums like mad.
The sound is like no other in jazz. Hints of electric fusion, puzzling free jazz -- and the power of a mid-size ensemble -- pile up in pleasant disarray. Tunes like Charles Mingus' "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" drip musical colors and moods, while Motian originals like "Mumbo Jumbo" release energy in burst after unpredictable burst. "Garden of Eden" is a beautifully imagined work.