Bassist and composer Mario Pavone
died on May 15, 2021, after a seventeen-year battle with cancer. The Connecticut native had many interests and earned a degree in engineering, a Doris Duke Foundation grant and, for a quarter-century, shared his wisdom and talent with kids at the Litchfield Performing Arts Jazz Camp, where he also served as a board member. In the 1970s, Pavone, along with Wadada Leo Smith
and Anthony Braxton
helped launch The Creative Musicians Improvisors Forum, a Northeast variation of the AACM. Though he did not begin his solo recording career until 1979, he appeared on fifty albums, half as a leader.
Pavone was immersed in the Jazz Loft scene and performed with, Muhal Richard Abrams
, George Lewis
, Marty Ehrlich
, Oliver Lake
, Carla Bley
, and many others. His recording projects teamed him with Braxton, Bill Dixon
, Paul Bley
, Annette Peacock
, among others, but it was his nine albums with the late saxophonist Thomas Chapin
that set Pavone atop the list of best bassists in jazz.
By March of 2021, Pavone knew that time was rapidly running out but pushed on to complete Blue Vertical
that month. His all-star Dialect Trio +1 features Matt Mitchell
and Tyshawn Sorey
, joined by trumpeter Dave Ballou
. "Twardzik" sets the stage for Pavone's unique spin on groove and swing, with Ballou and Mitchell, embedded in a swirl of idiosyncratic phrasing. Halfway in, Pavone and Sorey pair off, and the bassist demonstrates that he is still more than able to pull out all the stops. Blue Vertical
is loaded with original upbeat compositions from the bassist and reflective pieces as well. "Philosophy Series" is a spin on "Sequence" from Pavone's Totem Blues
(Knitting Factory Works, 2000), while the title track revisits the great Chapin trio vibe.
Pavone and company spin out spontaneous and telepathic improvisations throughout Blue Vertical
. The music feels like it is constantly building on top of loosely developed structures; dialogues, always present, float in and out of focus. Pavone told an interviewer that completing these sessions took every bit of energy he had left. But the engineer in him channeled the energy back to us as a parting gift.
Twardzik; OKWA; Blue Poles; Isabella; Philosophy Series; Blue Vertical; Good Treble; Legacy Stories; Face Music.