The story told by pianist Jackob Sachs and bassist Eivind Opsvik is that they posed the question to each other: "Out of all the remaining living masters, who would you want to play with if you ever got the chance?" Their answer was Paul Motian. They invited violinist/violist Mat Manieri to the project, Motian signed on and the results are this exquisite 11-song delight.
Playing from the fringe to fully outside, but with harmonic sensibilities intact, the quartet performs on five compositions each by Sachs and Opsvik, with the title piece, a spontaneous improvisation in the studio, credited to the full quartet. Everyone is given space on this brilliant title piece, though Sachs and Manieri shine brightest. Piano sounds are atmospheric, the violin saws virtuosically, drums and bass hold it together. Extraordinary for its spontaneity, as well as for the performance level of each man, this evinces as many moods as it shifts in tone and tempo.
There are a slew of memorable moments on Two Miles a Day. Motian’s work on "Funny Shoes," rhythmically precise, creative and playful, is the highlight on the disc, though Manieri’s violin on the opening Sachs-penned "Ha!" is equally delightful. On Opsvik’s "As We Know It" the pace is almost funereal with Motian offering military lines in places under Manieri’s plaintive cello. On Sachs’ "Playing With Blocks," Opsvik and Sachs work off each other, while Motian drives and Manieri fills in thrilling violin corners.
Throughout, the players interact seamlessly. Given that the whole of the project was undertaken and accomplished in a mere six hours, this is the more impressive. Sachs and Opsvik are creative and talented players. Opsvik's bass is a tonal and inflectious instrument throughout. Sachs has full command over the piano, with cacophonous and sparse lines sharing space equally. Manieri's command of the stringed instruments is indisputable. He soars, he creaks and moans. Always, he dazzles. Paul Motian is indeed one of the great drummers of the past 30 years, or so. His approach is rhythmic and he utilizes every tonal possibility of the kit. This comes highly recommended from these quarters.