Brilliant jazz drummer Paul Motian died in New York today. He was 80. I haven’t been able to confirm the cause of death, but according to Sunnyside Records he had been in hospice for the past couple of weeks. I suppose it’s never exactly a shock when someone his age passes away, but in this case it’s especially hard to accept—his drumming still sounded so alive. Though Motian stopped traveling years ago, gigging only in New York, he still played and recorded frequently, and the slew of recordings he made in recent years prove that he remained one of jazz’s most distinctive and original voices. He was an exceptionally melodic drummer and among the most swinging timekeepers ever to pick up sticks, but he was also constantly prodding and pushing the members of whatever band he played in.