Paul was unique. Not only as a player, but also personally. His loyalty was evident over the years. Coincidentally, the first time he came into Drummers World (early 80’s) to purchase a 24” cymbal bag, Elvin was there. They gave each other bear hugs and were genuinely glad to see one another. Thereafter, Paul would come in for brushes (plastic), heads etc. We eventually helped design a personal model drumstick for him when Cappella was in business. He bought his Gretsch drum set from us and a couple of years later I recall him calling me from a studio session and his first words were, “Hey, you remember those Gretsch drums I bought from you?” Midsentence, I’m waiting for the hammer to come down (a problem?) and was completely caught off guard when he began shouting how great the drums sounded recording. Whew!! What a relief. We always had a mutual respect for one another and as gruff as he would appear, he was a very sensitive, sweet man.
One of my fondest memories was more recent when he called to say he was interested in buying a Bop kit (18” bass drum). He always used 20”bass drum kits. He came into the store seeking advice about availability. At the time we had 6 -7 Bop sets on display. Because I was very impressed with the Canopus drums, I steered him in that direction. I sensed his sound and the drums being an ideal match. We would rarely stack drums on top of each other, as you often see in shops. We would have the kits set up for playing. Some would be on the floor, others on a riser 4-5 feet above. The kit he was looking at was on a riser. “Who is Canopus? What kind of drums, etc” he was asking. I gave him information about the company and emphasized to him we could take the drums off the riser, put them on the floor and he could hear how they sounded. His response was:” No, I’ll take them. I can look at them and tell they sound great!” Weeks later drummers would come to me telling stories of how Paul, when working at the Village Vanguard, would show off the drums with great pride. Months later, playing with Chick Corea at the Blue Note, he was using the Canopus kit. After a couple of weeks on the gig, Chick’s road manager came into the store, over enthused with how great the drums sounded and placed an order for two sets like Paul’s. One for Chick, one for himself! I still wonder if it was the drums or Paul they were listening to….
Paul Motian passed away November 22, 2011. We will always miss him.