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June 2006

Mario Pavone Sextet
Deez to Blues
Playscape Recordings

Despite being 17 albums into a career as leader, bassist Mario Pavone is perhaps best known for his stint with the Thomas Chapin trio, a Knitting Factory-affiliated group that was capable of some of the most tuneful and energizing jazz of the early- and mid-’90s. Chapin died of leukemia in ’98, but Pavone carries on the same spirit in his own riffy, rhythmically centered music.

On his new sextet disc, Deez to Blues, which also features Chapin drummer Michael Sarin, Pavone once again foregrounds the rhythm section, giving himself and pianist Peter Madsen a bulk of the melodic responsibility while leaving the horns to play a less orthodox role. That’s not to say that trumpeter Steven Bernstein, violinist Charles Burnham and tuba-player/saxophonist/clarinetist Howard Johnson miss out on any improv action. All three take concise solos that skirt the line between traditionalism and the avant-garde.

But Blues’ song- and rhythm sectionemphasis results in a more group-oriented, less regimented sound. In other words, this is no blowing set. Even when the horns step into the spotlight, Pavone and Sarin work forceful, liquid grooves that threaten to overpower anything that gets in their way. Though never noisy or atonal, Blues is impossible to tune out, impossible to turn down. It demands nothing less than your undivided attention.

Originally published in June 2006
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