Mario Pavone – Orange


Bassist/composer/bandleader Mario Pavone has a stellar reputation among fans of avant-garde jazz, particularly given his years as bassist for the Thomas Chapin Trio. But Pavone’s agreeable music should hold appeal for listeners of both inside and outside persuasions, from those enamored of hard bop and post-bop through to those favoring more open-ended styles of jazz exploration. Orange, released on the Playscape label during fall 2003, features Pavone’s trio with regular collaborator, pianist Peter Madsen, and now with Michigan transplant Gerald Cleaver in the drummer’s chair, augmented by the killer chops of trumpeter Steven Bernstein and tenor saxophonist Tony Malaby on five tracks. Trumpeter Bernstein energizes the quintet tracks, three of which he arranged. The Sex Mobster invites comparison here to such acclaimed New York trumpet compatriots as Dave Douglas and Herb Robertson, unleashing flurries of notes on “Drop Op” and “Goorootoo,” and ending his lines with punchy exclamation points on “Blue Rex,” the opening number that bops, swings, and struts, setting a strong pace that doesn’t let up for the rest of the disc. The spirit of Chapin continues to imbue Pavone’s work, explicitly on the lengthy “Sky Tango,” which begins ruminatively, but soon picks up steam and rhythmically opens, skirting free jazz territories and providing both Malaby and Madsen opportunities to soar. And Cleaver proves his ability to bond with a bassist through the twists and turns of arrangements that manage somehow to be simultaneously knotty and swinging. Echoes of the past come together movingly on “Burnt Sweet Orange,” as Bernstein and Malaby float bluesy call-and-response statements that lead into a loose stuttering vamp from the core trio, suggesting that the ghost of Mingus could very well be hovering over the proceedings along with Chapin. But ultimately, this disc belongs to Pavone, of course, as the composer and deep force who drives the music forward. Orange deserves space on the shelf next to classic Blue Note, Prestige, and Riverside releases, as well as jazz discs of more recent vintage from New World, Tzadik, and Knitting Factory, not to mention Playscape.


01. Blue Rex
02. Triple Diamond
03. Sky Tango (For T.C.)
04. Drop Op
05. Rebass Song
06. Burnt Sweet Orange
07. Goorootoo
08. Box In Orange
09. Language

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