Marking 40 years in music, bassist/composer Mario Pavone brought his Nu Trio/Sextet to the 55Bar (May 4th), one of several local stops on his anniversary tour (the Stone, CB's Lounge and Barbés were the others). Alongside Peter Madsen on Rhodes and Michael Sarin on drums, Pavone sprung from the gate with "East Arc , eye-poppingly intricate and dangerously fast. Once the smoke cleared, trio became sextet as Charles Burnham (violin), Howard Johnson (baritone sax/tuba) and Steven Bernstein (slide and standard trumpet) took their places. Bernstein arranged this new batch of Pavone originals, so it was he who cued and conducted the group throughout the set. (A recording was planned for the very next day.) The music was thick with dissonant three-part writing and the quirky instrumentation made it sing even at its strangest. Pavone's music is without prescribed chords, but its rhythmic and formal design is very precise · and Madsen, among all the soloists, has a way of opening it up, scattering harmonic sparks in all directions. Sarin, for his part, danced around the repeating dotted riff of "Zines , in a greasy medium-slow swing; Bernstein shouted to the heavens on the work-song-like outro of "Xapo ; and Burnham had his most memorable say on the grooving "Deez .
~ David Adler
Ever since Vision Festival founder Patricia Nicholson-Parker thankfully decided last year to make the annual celebration weekly, the Saturday Club series has helped make the Lower East Side a hub for improvisational music: Tonic's around the corner, The Stone a few blocks up and CB's Lounge a few blocks west. Last month (May 14th) the one-time Atlanta, now Brooklyn-based Gold Sparkle Trio (altoist/ clarinetist Charles Waters, bassist Adam Roberts, drummer Andrew Barker) filled the Vision's new home with breathtaking improvisational interplay. A road cooperative for over a half dozen years, Gold Sparkle's successful tight-rope talents at meshing composition and improvisation became immediately evident with the threesome rolling and tumbling upwards in sync, no small debt to the ever-agile Barker. His percussive, multi-textural rhythmic sense explores yet swings without ever becoming redundant. Intuitively playing off one another, at least one providing some sense of foundation in avoiding a total free-for-all, accessibility is the free-form group's most admirable trait. William Parker's ballad "Silence (Waters blowing a warm versus reedy high-pitched clarinet) was sensitively played and placed between two energetic improv romps.
The culmination of the energy, effort and music from the Vision Club has successfully paid off, leading us patiently to the inevitable: this month's Vision Festival. And you didn't have to wait a year!