WNPR

Mario Pavone’s Tight-Knit Trio Weaves New Textures at New Haven’s Firehouse 12

Jun 1, 2016

Credit Blue Dialect

Appropriately titled Blue Dialect, bassist/composer Mario Pavone’s fourth piano trio album flows with the fluent, articulate grace and freedom of a great, witty conversation, reveling in spontaneous, interactive musical dialogues in which everyone gets to speak his mind. 

Even the titles for some of Pavone’s bold compositions ring with the concept of verbal expression. Pieces named “Language” and “Trio Dialect” hint at the fine, lively musical colloquies to come among Pavone and his two gifted, empathetic collaborators, pianist Matt Mitchell and drummer Tyshawn Sorey.

Pavone, a Waterbury native and acclaimed veteran of the international avant-garde scene, celebrates Blue Dialect -- the venerable maestro’s 26th album as a leader -- as he performs with his trio on Friday, June 3, at 8:30 and 10:00 pm at New Haven’s Firehouse 12, at 45 Crown Street.

Blue Dialect’s musical journey -- with the narratives of the CD’s nine selections unfurling like related chapters -- opens with a tune called “Suitcase in Savannah,” packed with loads of crackling interplay among the three co-creators. Without sacrificing their distinctive voices, the musicians weave a collective yet vital art form, three persons-in-one united in a kind of musical trinity mutually exploring spiritual and emotional expression.

As a foreshadowing of surprises to come, “Suitcase” opens in media res, right in the middle of things before you even have a hint of what those “things” might be. With the music’s adventurous, episodic, sometimes heroic rogue-like spirit, it promises to be a free-jazz version of a picaresque novel.

But don’t look for any immediate plot directions on the very next piece, “Xapo,” which is cloaked in mystery, with Mitchell fearlessly probing angular, Monk-like brilliant corners. Next up, “Reflections” -- which is another sample of Pavone’s kaleidoscopic compositional skills -- has amusing starts and stops in its storyline, keeping you hooked but still wondering where it’s all heading.

Tyshawn Sorey.
Credit michael hoefner / Creative Commons

“Silver Print,” another chapter, features more extraordinary exchanges between Pavone, a master at picking the exactly right note at the exactly right time -- his brand of musical bon mots -- and Sorey, whose deft rhythmic diction is the ideal complement to Mitchell’s bright, skittering ideas and eloquent use of nuanced intensity.  

Matt Mitchell.
Credit Peter Gannushkin / Matt Mitchell

Without losing any of its collective tight-knit feel, the trio plays freely, with everyone getting space for soliloquies on “Language,” solos that, instead of being self-indulgent asides, tie in with the CD’s overarching spirit of unity synthesized with freedom.

Again, the analogy with fearless verbal expression holds as the trio continuously dares to cross the Rubicon where a happy confluence of lexicon and musical syntax meets, creating a lingua franca all its own.

“Trio Dialect,” the next chapter, soars with controlled ferocity, fueled with high-octane expression and mercurial thoughts.

“Blue,” the CD's grand finale, exudes more mystery riddled with enigmas dramatized with dynamic tension that alternately mounts and releases. An intense three-way conversation, it’s so intimate, so candid that you almost feel as if you’re eavesdropping on a high-level conference call about something immensely significant but never quite revealed.

Blue Dialect is itself a circular tale with no ending since everything, rather than being resolved with the final bar, halts in mid-air. The CD’s omega, or apparent endpoint, instead points right back to its alpha, its genesis, the well-packed, ready-for-travel Suitcase.  

In its end is its beginning, and we’re sent back all over again to the beginning to see how skillfully the three collaborator/raconteurs create their stories in the moment.

So, the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started, and know the place for the first time. Then we’re ready to take maestro Pavone’s well-spun, nine-step round trip narrative all over again, each time, no doubt, discovering something new from the three swinging, simpatico storytellers. Tickets: $20.00 first show; $15.00 second show. Information: firehouse12.com and (203) 785-0468.

Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

Alto Summit Wails for Woods

If you’re hungering for pure, unadulterated bebop in the classic, soaring style of Charlie “Bird” Parker, you might want to check out the alto summit meeting between the noted saxophonists Greg Abate and Richie Cole on Friday, June 3, at 8:30 pm at Old Lyme’s The Side Door Jazz Club.

Abate and Cole, two long esteemed and perpetually steaming saxophonists, unite in a celebration of the modern jazz artistry of the late, grand alto master Phil Woods. Birds-of-a-feather, they’ll be accompanied on their signature flights into alto madness by the Tim Ray Trio, with Ray on piano, John Lockwood on bass and Mark Walker on drums.

Greg Abate.
Credit Greg Abate

Beside recordings and performances as leaders of their own bands, Abate and Cole also sport impressive resumes as sidemen.   

Abate’s early credits, for example, include a coveted stint with the Ray Charles Orchestra in the lead alto saxophone chair, succeeding the legendary David “Fathead” Newman.

On tenor, the multi-instrumentalist and longtime New England and East Coast heavyweight champ played with the revived Artie Shaw Orchestra under the leadership of the then eminent clarinetist Dick Johnson. Inspired by Bird, Paul Desmond and Woods, Abate has performed at countless club dates and festivals throughout the United States, Europe and Russia.

Cole, whose two prime inspirations were Sonny Rollins and Bird, has played for  such big band titans as Buddy Rich and Lionel Hampton. A versatile virtuoso, he’s also performed and recorded as a featured soloist with a varied array of artists including, among others: vocalese master Eddie Jefferson, Freddie Hubbard, Sonny Stitt, Art Pepper, Tom Waits, Nancy Wilson, and yes, even as a soulful, perfectly cobbled fit with Boots Randolph.

As alto royalty, Cole has appeared at the Village Vanguard and Carnegie Hall, and even given a command performance for Queen Elizabeth II. Information: thesidedoorjazz.com and (860) 434-0886.

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