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About Mario Pavone

Adventurous jazz bassist and composer Mario Pavone became increasingly active in New York jazz for several decades starting in the 1970s. Pavone is perhaps best known for his tenure as bassist in the Thomas Chapin Trio, and a frequent collaborator of Anthony Braxton's, as well as for his own dates as a leader. Pavone got a relatively late start playing the bass, picking up the instrument in the early '60s at the age of 24. He took lessons from Bertram Turetzky and, after getting his engineering degree from the University of Connecticut, began playing professionally in 1965. In 1967, Pavone attended the funeral of John Coltrane and decided to give up engineering for music permanently, playing with pianist Paul Bley that year and into 1968.

On the New York loft scene, Pavone made music with trumpeter Bill Dixon (with whom he has often performed in the decades since), Archie Shepp and more. He started his own label, Alarca, in the '70s and led three dates for it over the next decade. In the late '70s, he found an array of collaborating and innovative musicians based out of Connecticut, including Ray Anderson, percussionist Pheeroan akLaff, drummer Gerry Hemingway, pianist Anthony Davis, bassist Mark Helias, trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith and many more. Pavone and many of these musicians co-founded the Creative Musicians' Improviser's Forum, a sort of Connecticut version of Chicago's AACM. The '80s found Pavone recording frequently with Dixon for the Soul Note label, and from here he stepped into his crucial role in the Thomas Chapin Trio.

Saxophonist and flutist Chapin went on to lead many albums, with Pavone and drummer Michael Sarin as the rhythm section on all of Chapin's Knitting Factory releases. In addition to Pavone's own Alarca dates, he led two for the New World label in the early '90s which included Chapin, Marty Ehrlich, Joshua Redman and Peter Madsen, among others. They were 1991's Toulon Days, and 1993's Song for (Septet), which was a critic's pick that was later named NAIRD's Jazz Record of the Year. Pavone also recorded with Anthony Braxton for the Music & Arts and Knitting Factory labels during this time. Beginning in the late '90s, Pavone began recording as a leader for Knitting Factory. The first release, Dancer's Tales (1997), was as a sextet (one less than his last two albums), which again included Chapin (who, unfortunately, died in early 1998). Remembering Thomas was Pavone's next album, this time featuring a tight trio of himself, Madsen, and drummer Matt Wilson.

Pavone's next collaborative partner was guitarist Michael Musillami. They released a series of albums together on Playscape beginning with 2000's Op-Ed, followed by Motion Poetry in 2001 and Pivot in 2002. Between and after those last two recordings, Pavone cut a series of quintet and quartet offerings for the label that included trumpeter Steven Bernstein, saxophonist Tony Malaby, and pianist Peter Madsen (drummers shifted on every release and included Gerald Cleaver). In 2006, the lineup shifted somewhat for Deez to Blues: Madsen and Bernstein remained but violinist Charles Burnham and Howard Johnson on tuba and reeds, with Michael Sarin on drums. 2008 saw Pavone and Bley reunite for the first time in 35 years on Trio Arc -- with Wilson on drums -- and also marked the 40th anniversary of the bassist's first appearance with the pianist on Canada. The following year, Ancestors marked the debut of the Mario Pavone Double Tenor Quintet with Malaby and Jimmy Greene on saxophones. Madsen played piano and Cleaver held down the drum chair. That group expanded to a sextet on the following year's Arc Suite T/Pi T/Po with Dave Ballou on trumpet and cornet (Bernstein guested on slide trumpet on a single track). Pavone spent two years touring with various ensembles as a leader and as a sideman. In 2013, he issued the live debut of his Arc Trio with Cleaver and pianist Craig Taborn.

For 2014's Street Songs, the bassist employed his first quintet with two bassists -- the other one was Carl Testa. Recorded at Firehouse 12 Recording Studio in New Haven, Connecticut, the album was inspired by Pavone's early memories of "stoop music" heard growing up in the multicultural melting pot of Waterbury, Connecticut. In wanting to pay tribute to the street music that influenced him early on, he also enlisted Adam Matlock on accordion -- another first. After nine straight recordings for Playscape, the bassist issued his next two albums for Clean Feed: Blue Dialect debuted his Dialect Trio with Tyshawn Sorey and Matt Mitchell (2014), and 2015's Vertical year saw Malaby, Sarin, and Ballou return, along with clarinetist Oscar Noriega and trombonist Peter McEachern. Pavone again spent time touring with each of these bands and in 2017 returned to Playscape with his Dialect Trio for the album Chrome. ~ Joslyn Layne


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