Two obits

In the November 23rd NYT, two obits: for jazz musician Paul Motian (aged 80) and pollster George Gallup Jr. (aged 81).

Motian (pronounced like motion) was described by Ben Ratliff in the Times as “a drummer, bandleader, composer and one of the most influential jazz musicians of the last 50 years”. He played with Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, Joe Lovano, Bill Frisell, the members of the Electric Bebop Band (which became the Paul Motian Band), and many others. Over the years, he moved from swing-based rhythms to free improvisation and often challenging music, with irregular phrasing and just barely discernible melody lines.

The death notices and other materials on his life and work are notable for their almost complete absence of detail about his personal life. Though one of the most congenial and collaborative of musicians, he was a very private person.

George Gallup Jr. (his professional name; in fact he was George Horace Gallup III), in contrast, was a public person, leading the Gallup Poll firm and founding the Princeton Religion Research Center and (later) the George H. Gallup Foundation. He was a 1953 graduate of Princeton and lived in Princeton for most of his life. He was active with the Princeton Savoyards for a while; in 1961 he sang in a production of The Mikado — in which I was assistant stage manager and my roommate sang one of the leads.


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