Paul was one of a kind: a musicians’ drummer who thought about the music, not just the rhythm, and cast his own sound on everything he played. But he could play anything, and with anybody. He was committed to his work, and didn’t stop learning as he grew older. When he wanted to start writing music, he learned how to write. Once, while playing at the Vanguard, I heard a crash, looked up, and Paul wasn’t there at his drums. But coming from behind his drums was his arm, reaching for the cymbals so he wouldn’t miss a beat. He had fallen off the drum stool in his musical excitement, but never stopped playing.
— Keith Jarrett, quoted in Paul Motian Dies at 80 (Jazztimes.com)