American Paul Motian who passed away five years ago, was one among most original drummer of some last decades. Started still in late 50s as Bill Evans trio member, he played with such significant musicians as pianist Paul Bley(early 60s) and Keith Jarrett(late 60s-mid 70s). More important,his work with early avant-garde jazz artists, experimenting with freeing cool jazz, as pianist Lennie Tristano,influenced Paul Motian musical priorities for decades to come.
Motian career as leader started from collaboration with pianist Keith Jarrett,recorded for then newly founded German ECM label. Later Paul usually tried to avoid collaborations with pianists for the favor to have a guitarist in a band.His tuneful impressionistic compositions,rooted in cool jazz tradition,become one of so called "ECM sound" (or chamber jazz) important component.
After few first bands and some released albums, Motian formed the trio with guitarist Bill Frisell and saxophonist Joe Lovano, which is most probably his best band ever. "It Should've Happened A Long Time Ago" is not a first this trio's release, but it is one of their most significant work and one among best jazz albums coming from mid 80s.
On earlier recordings released by Motian as leader he often combined quite continued improvisational techniques,coming from 60s free jazz tradition,and it not always worked well in late 70s. For mid'80s "It Should've Happened..." Motian finally formed his own freer chamber jazz style, strongly based on composition,demonstrating a great melodies(album's opener is probably best known Motian song ever, kind of his own "Ida Lupino"),but avoiding polished and extremely safe sound,so characteristic for many chamber jazz trios of 80s and later periods.
Motian both trio's partners fits extremely well in musical concept with guitarist Bill Frisell adding some warm and chamber sounds but always ready for playing on the border with dissonance and Joe Lovano dark tenor,still lively even if not as unpredictable free as on his earlier works.
All album sounds as one long soundtrack to a bit sad art-movie (and as any great soundtrack doesn't requires a visual line to be completed, it sounds pretty great itself). As on any his album, Motian doesn't beat a rhythm, he plays impressionistic sounds as if he paints pictures with sticks and brushes.
Not as raw and energetic as some early Motian trio's works, "It Should've Happened A Long Time Ago" is one great example of the best advanced chamber jazz coming from 80s.