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Mario Pavone: Trio Arc

Nic Jones By

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This is a meeting of minds. Bassist Mario Pavone first worked with pianist Paul Bley some forty years ago, but there's something about the music they produce in this trio setting with drummer Matt Wilson that renders the issue of time irrelevant. What makes it so is the underlying impression that this is music destined never to be resolved, as if the musicians making it are so clear in their innate understanding both of each other and their collective musical output that they could pick up the threads at any time and in any place.

This would account for the very way the program opens, with Wilson putting out propulsive waves over Pavone's broken lines on "Slant." Bley stays silent for a moment, as if he's taking in rhythmic developments and their potential before responding to them. When he does, it's with his customarily oblique harmonic sense and avoidance of the obvious.

The relatively tranquility of "Hello Again" is tempered by Bley's choice of notes, the quality of his lines simultaneously translucent and shaded. Few pianists in the entirety of the music have attained Bley's individuality, and here Pavone proves himself to be on a par, in empathic terms with Bley's approach, with the likes of Charlie Haden and Gary Peacock.

Wilson's right there too, though that's not to suggest that this is a trio in thrall to one member's approach. That meeting of minds referred to above is all too obvious on "Mira," where Wilson takes as many liberties with time as do the other two; the result being music of compelling irresolution where the lead is distributed both evenly and subtly.

"Lazzi" finds Bley dealing in the piano's extended vocabulary and regarding the keyboard as much as a percussion instrument as anything else. Pavone's right there with him, with hard plucked notes on closed strings adding to the slightly unworldly atmosphere.

All of this music was fashioned in the moment, and every composition being attributed to the group underlines that fact. Minds rarely meet as closely as they do here, and the results are profoundly singular, indicative that even a formula as staid as the piano trio can be compelling in the right hands.

Track Listing: Slant; Hello Again; Quest; Miro; Lazzi; Sweet; Solo Bley.

Personnel: Mario Pavone: bass; Paul Bley: piano; Matt Wilson: drums.

Title: Trio Arc | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Playscape Recordings

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